Middle East

Lebanese minister says garbage crisis ‘99% solved’

Lebanon's Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said on Friday the country's rubbish crisis had been "99 percent solved" at a government committee meeting on the issue.

The Lebanese National News Agency quoted Machnouk and reported there would be a cabinet meeting on Saturday to finalize the agreement. It gave no further details.

Politicians' failure to agree on a solution for garbage disposal has left mountains of trash piling up in and around Beirut for months and prompted warnings over the potential spread of diseases.

Lebanon canceled a plan to export its rubbish to Russia last month, a government agency said.

The problem is symptomatic of political deadlock that has left the country without a president for almost two years and prevented the government from taking even basic decisions.

Opposing factions include parties backed by regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. Conflict across the Middle East, including the war in neighboring Syria, where Iran and Saudi Arabia support warring sides, has strained Lebanon's sectarian political system.

Saudi Arabia recently halted US$3 billion of aid to Lebanon's armed forces, blaming the government's failure to condemn attacks on its diplomatic missions in Iran after Riyadh executed a Shi'ite cleric.

Arab states have also labeled Shi'ite Hezbollah, a powerful political and military force in Lebanon, a terrorist organization.

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