September 17, 2020
The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement has denounced the United States over blocking efforts to establish a new government in the Arab country, which is grappling with its worst economic crisis in decades.
Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc said in a statement on Thursday that US President Donald Trump’s administration “is the one responsible for obstructing the efforts to form the government.”
The Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, however, said it still saw the chance to agree on a cabinet, saying, it “still sees the opportunity available to renew that, which was wrecked by those who [are] handling, in the shadows, the operation of forming the new government.”
The United States on September 8 slapped sanctions on two former cabinet ministers in Lebanon over support for Hezbollah as it vowed to isolate the resistance movement amid the country’s political turmoil.
The Treasury Department targeted former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and former transport minister Youssef Fenianos, freezing any assets they hold in the United States. The sanctions also make any financial transactions with them liable to criminal penalties.
“We categorically refuse that anyone on our behalf names ministers that represent us in the government,” Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc pointed out.
Efforts to form a new government in Lebanon have hit an impasse with Parliament Speaker and Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri insisting that the Finance Ministry, along with Defense, Interior and Foreign ministries, must be excluded from the proposed shake-up of the leadership.
While Berri insists on assigning the position of finance minister to a Shia candidate, Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib is in favor of switching control of the ministries.
Political pundits say many of the ministries have been held by same factions for years.
French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country was Lebanon’s former colonial overseer, has called on the Arab country’s political leaders to swiftly form a government to lead the crisis-hit country, and to persuade donors to release billions of dollars in aid. He is pushing for a revamped cabinet.
The French president has visited Beirut twice since the August 4 port explosion, which killed 191 people, to try to forge a working consensus for a new government, warning he will block recovery funds from donors if no progress is made in his favor.
Adib has been seeking to appoint ministers so they can begin work on a French road map.
But major Shia Muslim and Christian players in the sectarian power-sharing system have complained that the prime minister-designate has not been consulting them.
On September 13, Berri announced his strong opposition to the manner Adib is forming a new cabinet, saying his Amal Movement will not participate in the next administration.
The senior legislator, however, stressed that his party would cooperate with the next Lebanese government for the sake of the country’s stability.
Additionally, the president of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Gebran Bassil, stated that his party would not be part of the next cabinet, but would support it.
He argued that “a single camp” is seeking to form the new Lebanese government “without consultations” with other political parties.
With its economy devastated by a financial crisis, the Lebanese pound continues to plummet against the US dollar. The currency has lost more than 80 percent of its value over the last weeks while sources of foreign currency have dried up.