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World One year on, how is Lebanon's Hariri back?

12:21  23 october  2020
12:21  23 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Wait, Hariri resigned a year ago in answer to the popular protests. How is his return supposed to be the solution to Lebanon ’ s problems, which have only gotten worse Hariri is back as prime minister in large part because there’s not really anybody else whom Lebanon ’ s political parties would agree on.

Lebanese veteran politician Saad al- Hariri was named prime minister for a fourth time on Thursday and pledged to form a new government that can Designated Prime Minister Saad al- Hariri , meets with Lebanon ' s President Michel Aoun and Lebanese Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri at the

One year after mass protests pushed him to resign, Saad Hariri is back as Lebanon's prime minister designate to draw together a pro-reform cabinet that can save the crisis-hit country.

Saad Hariri wearing a suit and tie: Saad Hariri delivers a statement after being named Lebanon's prime minister designate © ANWAR AMRO Saad Hariri delivers a statement after being named Lebanon's prime minister designate

What circumstances brought him back? What do the international community and key players inside the Lebanon think? And will the consensus on him being named make his tricky task any easier?

Why the return?

Less than two weeks after an unprecedented street movement erupted in October 2019 against a Lebanese political class viewed as inept and corrupt, Hariri stepped down.

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Lebanon ' s political parties have chosen Saad Hariri to be prime minister, a year after he stepped The 50- year -old was backed by his own Sunni Muslim-led Future Movement, the Shia Muslim Power in Lebanon is largely based on sectarian interests. Political appointments and many jobs depend on

Lebanon ’ s President Michel Aoun warned Wednesday that Lebanon ' s third prime minister in a year would have to work towards reforms and fight corruption. Now that Saad Hariri has secured his return, most parliamentary blocs have promised to cooperate in the formation of the cabinet especially

He had presented a roadmap for reform to stem the country's economic downfall, but it was rejected by the angry street.

The country has since sunk further into crisis, with poverty soaring to more than half the population, banks increasingly restricting access to savings, a novel coronavirus lockdown, and finally on August 4 a massive blast at Beirut port that killed more than 200 people and ravaged large parts of the capital.

Protests gradually subsided in 2020, reinvigorating the derided political class, which hampered the efforts of the next premier Hassan Diab towards redressing the country, and then those of his successor Mustapha Adib in forming a new crisis cabinet after the Beirut blast.

In early October, Hariri -- already three times premier and the head of the country's main Sunni Muslim political party -- said he was "definitely" a candidate to take on the task.

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Soon after Lebanon ’ s 50- year -old former prime minister, Saad Hariri left He also lamented the fact that Lebanon was so bitterly divided that rival communities were void of empathy for Lebanese Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri speaks to journalists at the Presidential Palace, Lebanon , on

Lebanon , officially known as the Lebanese Republic, is a country in the Levant region of Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south

Named on Thursday, he pledged to swiftly create a government of experts not affiliated to the country's traditional political parties, calling it Lebanon's "only and last chance".

"Lebanon has come full circle. We're back with Hariri," a European diplomatic source commented.

Analyst Karim Bitar said: "The revolution wasn't able to produce leaders or form a unified front, while the traditional political parties were able to consolidate their ranks, regardless of divergences over pie-sharing."

What does the international community think?

"The international community understands the anger of the Lebanese people over Hariri's return, but it does not share in the same indignation because they know him, are used to dealing with him," Bitar said.

But Hariri's foreign backers France and the United States have different priorities.

Paris wants a new pro-reform government of experts to fit the criteria proposed by France's President Emmanuel Macron under the so-called "French initiative".

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon is used to affronts to its sovereignty. Israel occupied part of the country for years . Syrian troops stayed even longer. He has not been back since, and no one is sure when, or if, he is returning. Hours after Mr. Hariri ’ s announcement — televised Saturday on a

The US and its ally Saudi Arabia are however more focused on neutralising the Shiite movement Hezbollah, the only side not to have disarmed after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

"The Americans and Saudis are expecting Hariri to adopt a slightly more hawkish position regarding Hezbollah," Bitar said.

The United States on Thursday targeted two Hezbollah officials with economic sanctions, its latest against the group it regards as "terrorist".

All sides will be awaiting long-demanded reforms to unlock billions of dollars in financial aid to rescue the debt-ridden country.

What about in Lebanon?

Hariri's nomination was backed by a majority of 65 lawmakers.

Hezbollah and its ally the Free Patriotic Movement led by the president's son-in-law Gebran Bassil did not name him.

Its fellow Shiite party the Amal Movement however supported Hariri's return, implying tacit agreement from Hezbollah.

"Hariri is the candidate of the Shiite duo and the deep state. He is an integral part of the system," said Michel Douaihy, an analyst close to the protest camp.

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Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has officially withdrawn his resignation, a month after saying he was quitting in a shock announcement in Saudi Arabia. He had already suspended it two weeks ago after returning to Lebanon . In a statement, he said the situation had been resolved after all members

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al- Hariri has resigned, saying in a televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia that he feared for his life, while also fiercely criticising Iran. He accused Iran of sowing "fear and destruction" in several countries, including Lebanon . Mr Hariri ' s father, former Prime Minister Rafik

"Hezbollah is comfortable with Hariri. The party needs Sunni cover in the region," he said.

Bassil's decision not to back Hariri was more to do with a power struggle between both men, Douaihy said.

"They're both 50 years old and want to be boss," he said, one as premier and the other eventually as president.

But in the end they would have no other option than to sit at the same table, Douaihy predicted.

What challenges?

Forming a cabinet can take months in Lebanon, where ministries have traditionally been shared out between its various political and religious sides.

In the last bid to create a cabinet, Hezbollah and Amal refused to relinquish control of the finance ministry and insisted on naming Shiite ministers, causing Adib to quit.

Bassil, who was foreign minister in the government that stepped down last year, has claimed the next cabinet will have to be made up of both technocrats and political appointees since Hariri himself is not an independent.

Finally, Hariri will have to endure the hostility of the protest camp, who view him as a member of the old political class, even if there was no immediate reaction in the street after his appointment.

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