Lebanon’s Interior Minister to Asharq Al-Awsat: Significant Improvement in Security Situation
Lebanese Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan has invited Arab holidaymakers to visit Lebanon, saying the country’s security situation has witnessed a significant improvement.
“The security situation is stable,” Hassan told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview published on Monday. “It is 90 percent better than what it used to be three or four years ago.”
“The security forces are carrying out their duties. So, the country is safe,” she said, calling on “tourists from Arab countries and all over the world to visit us.”
Hassan expressed “satisfaction” with the performance of security commanders, including ISF chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman and the head of General Security, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.
When asked about the recent arrests of corrupt police officers, Hassan, who is the Arab world’s first female interior minister, said that there is no going back on a decision to clamping down on corruption.
“I am going ahead with it through the support of Prime Minister Saad Hariri,” Hassan told Asharq Al-Awsat. “Othman has taken a decision to investigate all suspected corruption cases.”
She stressed that Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal Movement will not provide a political cover to any person suspected of involvement in corruption.
“This has also been made clear in the government's policy statement,” Hassan said, adding that President Michel Aoun has also been adamant on no longer making any room for corruption.
Asked about the recent visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the minister said discussions focused on Washington’s assistance to Lebanon, which in addition to European aid, has contributed to changes in the Internal Security Forces general command and the ISF Intelligence Branch, helping dismantle terrorist sleeper cells.
During his Mideast tour that also included visits to Kuwait and Israel, Pompeo renewed his attack on Hezbollah and its main backer Iran. But Hassan denied coming under US pressure in that regard.