Formation of Lebanese Cabinet Knotted by U.S. Demand to Restrict Hizbollah Portfolios

Published September 5th, 2018 - 08:01 GMT
President Donald Trump with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (Twitter)
President Donald Trump with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (Twitter)

The United States has placed a decisive veto on any qualitative or quantitative increase of Hezbollah’s share in the next Cabinet, Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.

The sources said U.S. officials had already informed Lebanese leaders that any increase of the party’s powers in the upcoming government would be confronted by a total American boycott, through sanctions on institutions governed by the party and a freeze of U.S. planned aid to the Lebanese Army.

Hezbollah publicly demands to receive two portfolios in the next cabinet, including the Ministry of Health and another services ministry.

However, the sources said the U.S. warnings would constitute an obstacle facing Hezbollah’s new demands.

 

 

Therefore, they said, the Party would have two choices: to either accept to receive the same portfolios it has in the current government (Ministry of Agriculture and of Youth and Sports), or reject that, which practically means obstructing the formation of the government.

If Hezbollah receives the Ministry of Health, then “U.S. pressures would automatically lead to the freeze of aids planned to the Ministry amounting to around $150 million,” the sources said.

And, while the U.S. Embassy in Beirut had issued no statements in this regard, Lebanese sources said the embassy had informed officials in Beirut that its official position had not changed from the one announced regarding previous governments. “Washington would automatically stop dealing with any ministry chaired by a Hezbollah member,” they explained.

The U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, the government formation process was hindered on Monday after President Michel Aoun announced some “observations” on the format of a ministerial formula presented Monday by Prime-Minister designate Saad Hariri.

The President considered the formula as not respecting the principles and criteria that he had determined regarding the form of the government, as well as Lebanon's interest.

On Tuesday, Hariri indirectly responded to Aoun’s observations, saying: “My prerogatives are clear in the constitution, full stop, this should not be the subject of debate.”

Hariri added that if any political party thinks it is bigger than the country or the interest of the country, then this is the problem.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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