Hezbollah Raises Portfolios Threshold

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As the race for cabinet portfolios accelerates before the appointment of a new Prime Minister, “Hezbollah” has made new demands on political and service portfolios, contrary to its previous shares in governments since 2005.

Observers have raised several questions regarding Hezbollah’s change of policy in light of regional and international developments.

Hezbollah opponents link this change to rising sanctions against the party and its leaders, while supporters say the party’s decision is merely internal and linked to the fight against widespread corruption in all state institutions.

The party needs “services portfolios” to meet popular demands in impoverished areas such as Ras Baalbek and Hermel in the Bekaa Valley.

Lebanese Forces newly elected deputy Wehbi Qatisha described Hezbollah’s ministerial demands as efforts to avoid the sanctions enforced on its leaders and its ally Iran.

“Instead of increasing its demands, Hezbollah should facilitate the cabinet formation,” he said.

However, member of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc Walid Succariyeh told Asharq Al-Awsat that in the past, the party was mainly focusing on its resistance to Israel and on fighting terrorism. “Now, the party needs to effectively start participating in the internal political process by receiving main portfolios,” he said.

Hezbollah is demanding a services portfolio such as the energy or the public works Ministries to silence voices that emerged before the parliamentary elections, particularly in the Bekaa area, to demand more development projects.

However, Qatisha rejected Hezbollah’s justifications, saying that while it claims fighting terrorism, the party was securing the departure of extremists from the Lebanese border to Syria in air-conditioned buses, in reference to a deal brokered by the party in August last year to evacuate ISIS militants from their enclave on the Syria-Lebanon border.

According to Qatisha, the party’s “strong” participation in the new cabinet would complicate internal matters, unless it decides to change its policy and work for Lebanon’s interest instead of Iran.

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