News / Middle East

Lebanese Government Collapses As Hezbollah Exits

Lebanese Energy Minister Jibran Bassil announces the resignation of Hezbollah ministers and their allies during a press conference in the northern Beirut suburb of Rabieh, 12 Jan 2011
Lebanese Energy Minister Jibran Bassil announces the resignation of Hezbollah ministers and their allies during a press conference in the northern Beirut suburb of Rabieh, 12 Jan 2011
Heather Murdock

Lebanon's unity government collapsed Wednesday after Hezbollah ministers and their allies resigned.

Wednesday's walkout ushers in another political crisis for a country with a long history of  volatility and violence.  The resignations were announced at a news conference by Energy Minister Jibran Bassil, a member of the Free Patriotic Movement - the key Christian ally of Hezbollah.

In order to pave the way for a new government according to the constitution that will be able to take responsibility for the security and interests of the people, he said, and also by securing the real justice, the ministers are submitting their resignations from this government hoping that the president will accelerate the formation of a new government.

Analysts say their departure could also force the resignation of Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri and end Lebanese involvement in the U.N.-backed court investigating the 2005 assassination of former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, the father of Sa’ad Hariri.

Mr. Hariri's assassination stunned and polarized Lebanon, where Shi'ites, Sunnis and Christians make up  a third of the population.

Mr. Hariri was well liked and backed by many Christians who sympathized with his efforts to try to reduce Syrian influence in the country.

Political analyst Judith Palmer Harik said the ministers resigned in order to force the formation of a new government- one that would end Lebanese support for the international court's investigation into Mr. Hariri's death.

The investigation by the court is likely to name members of Hezbollah in upcoming indictments, which many fear could re-ignite sectarian violence.

But, Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri  refused to halt the investigation and vowed to continue to cooperate.

A diplomatic push by Syria and Saudi Arabia to ease political tensions in Lebanon failed.

Labor Minister Butros Harb expressed concern:

The situation puts us into administrative crisis, he said, and also in a new political crisis which increases complications in the country and does not contribute towards solving any of the problems.

Prime Minister Hariri formed the current national unity government in November 2009, but it has struggled to function amid deep divisions.

Mr. Hariri met in Washington Wednesday with President Barack Obama to discuss the crisis in Lebanon.

After the meeting, the Mr. Obama reportedly vowed to pursue stability in Lebanon.  Later in the day, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Hezbollah was attempting to "subvert justice" and undermine stability.  She said it "won't work."

Lebanese political analyst Hilal Khashan says Hezbollah is not likely to use its military might to take over Lebanon.  In 2008, Hezbollah took over West Beirut in a matter of days.  A move like that, he says, will not happen again because Syria will not allow it.

For the Lebanese people, Khashan says the collapse of the government will not result in immediate change because the government has done virtually nothing in months.  Government paralysis, he says, is now simply formalized.  

You May Like

Photogallery Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs