World News

A Hezbollah-backed academic is set to be Lebanon's next prime minister

Posted December 19, 2019 12:10 p.m. EST

— Lebanese President Michel Aoun has designated former education minister Hassan Diab as the country's next prime minister, according to a statement from the presidential palace on Thursday.

Hassan Diab, who is backed by Hezbollah and its allies, was designed as the next premier after receiving more votes in parliament than the only other contender for the post, Nawaf Salam, who was believed to have been backed by Washington.

Diab, a professor at the American University of Beirut, is a little-known figure with no known political affiliations. But the fact that he is backed by Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant and political group, could complicate Lebanon's efforts to secure much-needed international aid at a crucial time.

Lebanon is enduring one of its worst-ever economic crises and has been wracked by weeks of mass protests that led to the resignation of the previous prime minister, Saad Hariri.

Donor countries have repeatedly warned that they would withhold pledged loans without economic reforms. A government dominated by Hezbollah, which the US and Gulf Arab states consider a terror organization, may be unlikely to win international support.

Hezbollah and its political allies make up a parliamentary majority, but the group has previously resisted forming a majority government. It has instead sought to be part of national unity governments led by Hariri.

Hariri stepped down less than two weeks after protests against government corruption kicked off on October 17. Since then, the country's main political parties have been in deadlock, exacerbating the country's economic crisis.

Last week, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said the group was looking to form a new national unity government. Nasrallah opposed Hariri's resignation, and blames the political vacuum for exacerbating the country's economic crisis.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.