Washington backs ally of Assad to be Lebanese president

Washington backs ally of Assad to be Lebanese president
Washington has indicated support for Sleiman Frangieh, an ally of Syria's president Assad to be the next president of Lebanon in a bid to end the country's political deadlock.
3 min read
10 December, 2015
Sleiman Frangieh is being talked about as a credible presidential candidate in Lebanon [Getty]

The American ambassador to Lebanon, Richard Jones, has offered his support for the election of Sleiman Frangieh as president in Lebanon in a meeting with Patriarch AL-Raji in Bkirki on Wednesday. 

During his meeting, Jones urged all parties to remove obstacles in the way of electing a president in Lebanon. 

"We agreed that it is time to elect a president" Jones said, referring to the 50-year-old leader of the Marada Movement Sleiman Frangieh who has been talked about as a credible candidate for presidency earlier this month

"If the reasonable compromise put forward is not accepted, we look to opposing parties to present their own suggestion" Jones said.

"The election of a president will enable the proper functioning of government and have a favourable impact on Lebanon’s security and economy." 

Meanwhile, Frangieh met with political ally-turned-

     The Frangieh bid is likely to be, at least in part, a result of regional cooperation.

presidential competitor Michel Aoun at the latter’s residence in Rabieh on Wednesday to discuss his candidacy.

The meeting was a positive icebreaker, sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed, but no statements were made. 

Almost 18 months have passed since Lebanon’s former president, Michel Suleiman, vacated the presidency following a six-year term, leaving behind a political vacuum, which Christian factions in Lebanon have failed to agree on to fill. 

The Frangieh bid is likely to be, at least in part, a result of regional cooperation that recently brought together foes Iran and Saudi Arabia to the table in Vienna in an effort to find a political settlement for Syria.

Despite Frangieh's close ties with the Syrian regime and his continued personal relationship with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Saudi ambassador to Beirut expressed his support for Frangieh's nomination while stressing that the nomination was a Lebanese decision that Saudi had no hand in. 

Sources close to the Iranian embassy in Beirut have told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the Iranians are also happy with the nomination and so is Hizballah. 

Hizballah has not announced its support for Frangieh's nomination however, because they have not managed to convince General Michel Aoun, who was the candidate backed by the group, according to informed sources. 

Frangieh hails from a well-known political family from northern Lebanon, whose grandfather - the man whose name he carries - was a former Lebanese president.

The presidential candidate was a close friend of the late Bassel Assad, the brother of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad whom he keeps in touch with to this day. 

Frangieh is also a supporter of the Hizballah group and once said that the next generation would envy this one for "living in the days of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah."