Consultations over Lebanon’s new government are expected to begin today, following Saad al-Hariri’s appointment as prime minister last Thursday. The
Consultations over Lebanon’s new government are expected to begin today, following Saad al-Hariri’s appointment as prime minister last Thursday.
The recent election underscored the Shiite group Hezbollah’s growing influence in Lebanese politics. The Iran-backed party and its allies obtained 70 of the Parliament’s 128 seats, leaving the Western-backed Hariri with little option but to cede more power to Hezbollah in the coming government.
Hezbollah is eyeing control over a third ministry and one which boasts more influence, such as the ministries of health or social affairs. But despite the need to deal with Lebanon’s stagnating economy and security risks arising from the region’s instability, a swift formation of government is bleak as the anti-Hezbollah Lebanese Forces party also doubled their seats.
With Hezbollah’s new majority, Lebanon may develop closer ties with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Such a move would further erode the country’s previous neutrality and likely draw the ire of Washington and its allies. In the coming year expect more sanctions on Hezbollah, and further guarantees that US aid is not supporting the militant group.
Delve deeper: Hezbollah on the rise