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Reports: Hezbollah Vetoes New Cabinet, Leaving Lebanon Government in Limbo

Beirut-based news site NOW Lebanon yesterday conveyed reports from Al-Hayat indicating that Hezbollah has rejected a proposed new government.

“The solution proposed to give the Finance Ministry to the Amal Movement, the Foreign Ministry to the Free Patriotic Movement, and the Interior and Defense ministries to the March 14 coalition was rejected by Hezbollah, which refuses giving the portfolios responsible for the country’s security to the March 14 coalition,” a well-informed source told the newspaper.

The current caretaker cabinet took control of Lebanon in April 2013, after the stability of repeated governments was undermined by Hezbollah and its allies. Hezbollah’s veto over the proposed new cabinet composition, which came despite statements from March 14 figures signaling expanded willingness to make concessions, leaves efforts to restore political stability in limbo.

“I am prepared to participate in a coalition government with Hezbollah as a political party,” Hariri told Reuters on Friday, adding that he is very “optimistic” about the formation of this government…“We are trying to rule the country with everyone. We do not want to single anybody out because Lebanon is going through a difficult phase, especially since the international community has failed terribly at handling the Syrian crisis.”

The move is likely to reinforce analysis suggesting that Hezbollah has a stranglehold over Lebanese political institutions. Hudson Institute senior fellow Lee Smith outlined last month how the group is able to operate with impunity throughout the country, and NOW Lebanon recently described a speech by “firebrand Sunni Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir” in which Assir called on Sunnis to speak out against the “crimes Hezbollah committed against them,” including and particularly via the group’s “tools, especially the Lebanese army.”

[Photo: AFP news agency / YouTube ]