(February 1, 2019 / JNS) After nine grueling months, Lebanon has formed a unity government that includes the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hezbollah, whose allies took over 18 ministries.
For Hezbollah itself, Mahmoud Qmati became State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, while Mohammad Fneish took over the Youth and Sports portfolio.
Nevertheless, the United States applauded the development.
“The United States welcomes Lebanon’s announcement of the formation of a new government and congratulates President [Michel] Aoun and Prime Minister [Saad] Hariri on this historic occasion,” said the U.S. State Department in a statement. “We commend Lebanese leaders for working collectively to overcome the political obstacles that prolonged this process, and we look forward to engaging with the new Lebanese government to strengthen further our bilateral relationship. In this regard, the Secretary looks forward to traveling to Lebanon.”
Hariri promised the people of Lebanon, which has one of the highest public debts in the world, “a clear program and bold reforms” and “developing laws that cannot be delayed.”
However, the State Department expressed alarm about Hezbollah’s part in the governing coalition in that it “will continue to occupy ministerial positions,” including the health minister. “We call on the new government to ensure the resources and services of these ministries do not provide support to Hezbollah.”
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale visited Lebanon last month, where he called out Hezbollah for digging tunnels into Israel, in addition to storing rockets.
“While Lebanon has the right to defend itself, that is the right of the Lebanese state alone,” he said. “It is unacceptable to have a militia outside the control of the state, and unanswerable to all people of Lebanon digging attack tunnels across the blue line to Israel or assembling an arsenal of over 100,000 missiles with which to threaten regional stability.”