CAIRO: Egypt has defended its role on Lebanese politics against accusations that it is partially responsible for hindering the formation of a new government.
The MENA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki as saying, “To find some voices inside Lebanon holding Egypt responsible for the impediment that happened betrays a misunderstanding of the Egyptian role [in Lebanon].
“[Prime Minister-designate] Saad Hariri is making great efforts and Egypt appreciates this in light of regional and internal difficulties which might prevent reaching of required understanding, he added.
Hariri had stepped down from his position as Lebanese Prime Minister last week when he failed to garner approval for his proposed cabinet line-up, mainly because of resistance from Hezbollah.
Zaki said of this opposition to the government formation that it indicated “impediments that lacked impartiality.
Hariri reassumed his position on Wednesday and is now expected to form a cabinet that will be acceptable to his political rivals.
Hariri, son of former assassinated Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, fronts the March 14 alliance which is backed by the US, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
In elections in June, the March 14 movement managed to defeat the coalition known as the March 8 alliance, which includes Hezbollah and favors relations with Syria, and by extension Iran.
“Egypt will support the appointed Prime Minister to succeed in his role which appears difficult in the face of internal obstacles that have regional connections, Zaki said, alluding to the influence of Syria and Iran.
While Hariri has accused the March 8 movement of impeding his ability to form a cabinet, his opponents – chief among them Hezbollah – have stated that his choices were unacceptable.
Zaki said that as the appointed prime minister, Hariri was bound by the Lebanese constitution, which is what Egypt supported.
Relations between Egypt and Hezbollah have recently deteriorated from an already frosty relationship. Hezbollah’s criticism of Egypt’s role during Israel’s attack on Gaza last December was met with anger, and the subsequent discovery of a Hezbollah cell in Egypt complicated the issue.
Egypt, a key American ally in the region, along with Saudi Arabia supports Hariri against Hezbollah and its backer Iran. Additionally, relations between Egypt and Iran have been strained since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.