BEIRUT — Breaking a 10-month deadlock, Lebanon on Saturday unveiled a new unity government as leaders struggle to maintain stability despite profound political divisions and spillover violence from the war raging in neighboring Syria.
"A government in the national interest was formed in a spirit of inclusiveness," the new prime minister, Tammam Salam, a centrist, said in a television address.
Squeezed between Syria and Israel along the Mediterranean, Lebanon has become a second theater of the
The new Lebanese government was announced after an accord was finally crafted to the satisfaction of the nation's two key political blocs, the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement and the Sunni Muslim-led Future party. Often-acrimonious talks between the parties had dragged on for months. The political power struggle will likely continue despite the naming of a new government.
The two rival political camps have diametrically opposed views on Syria. Hezbollah has dispatched militiamen to support the government of embattled Syrian President
The clashing positions reflect the struggle for regional supremacy among two outside powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Shiite-dominated Iran, a major Assad supporter, is a patron of Hezbollah. Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, backs the Future bloc and has helped bankroll and arm anti-Assad forces fighting in Syria.
Lebanon’s complex political and sectarian dynamics, roiled by events in Syria, combined to set the stage for the almost yearlong political impasse. Former Prime Minister
The formation of a new government involves divvying up ministries and portfolios to satisfy both the major blocs and other groups, including Christian- and Druze-affiliated political factions.
Lebanon has maintained an often uneasy peace since its own 15-year civil war ended in 1990. Syrian troops left the country in 2005 after an almost three-decade presence amid an outcry following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He was killed in a massive car bomb explosion.
Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah is mostly seen on television because of concerns about possible assassination attempts.
The new government will face a myriad of challenges, including a rapidly deteriorating security scenario. A series of deadly car bomb attacks has been linked to the war in Syria. Sunni militants enraged at Hezbollah's support of Assad have repeatedly targeted civilian districts that support Hezbollah.