The state-within-a-state continues to devour its host, as Lebanon’s transformation into Iran’s latest forward operating base continues. The country runs the risk of becoming like that sad little local station in many television markets that used to have a recognizable identity and original programming, but faded into reruns interspersed with a perfunctory station identification.
BEIRUT – Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced on Monday a long-delayed new government dominated by allies of Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which is likely to cause alarm among Western powers.
Mikati was appointed to form a government after Hezbollah and its allies toppled Western-backed former premier Saad Hariri’s coalition in January over a dispute involving the UN-backed tribunal investigating the assassination of statesman Rafik al-Hariri, Saad’s father.
The Cabinet’s majority is made up of the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition, and Mitaki was quoted as saying by the Lebanese Daily Star that the “government will be a government for all Lebanon and will work for all the Lebanese people without discrimination.”
“Let us go to work immediately according to the principles and basis that we have affirmed our commitment to several times, namely … defending Lebanon’s sovereignty and its independence and liberating land that remains under the occupation of the Israeli enemy,” Mikati said at the Baabda Presidential Palace.
Political wrangling had held up the formation of the cabinet, including disagreements over sensitive posts.
The new government gave three ministers to President Michel Sleiman, seven to Mikati, and three to Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party, with the March 8 coaltion claiming the remaining 18 seats.
Mohammed Safadi, the former economy minister, was named finance minister and will try to improve Lebanon’s growth outlook which stands at about 2.5 percent this year, driven down by the political stalemate.
Fayez Ghusn was named defense minister and Marwan Charbel as the interior minister. Nicolas Sehnawi was given the telecommunications portfolio, a post ridden with controversy due to disagreements over privatizing the sector.
Hariri, who is supported by the West and Saudi Arabia, has refused to join Mikati’s government.
A main aim of the government will be to agree on a unified stand to face indictments by the tribunal expected to implicate members of Hezbollah in the 2005 killing of Hariri. The group denies any link to the attack….
The trail may lead through Hizballah all the way back to Iran and the Ayatollah Khamenei.