Lebanon’s Prime Minister is Billionaire Backed by Hezbollah

Posted June 13th, 2011 at 2:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Najib Mikati, who heads the new cabinet in Lebanon that was announced on Monday, is a 55-year-old billionaire Sunni businessman who enjoys close ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr. Mikati served previously as the country's prime minister in 2005, ruling in a caretaker capacity for three months after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Mr. Hariri's son, Saad, then won an election and led a coalition government until this past January, when Mr. Mikati once again became the country's leader.

Mr. Mikati, who is backed by the militant group Hezbollah, considers himself someone who can work with all of the rival factions in Lebanon. He has previously served in three cabinets beginning in 1998 and was elected to parliament in 2000, representing the northern city of Tripoli.

In the midst of the years-long Lebanese civil war that began in 1975, Mr. Mikati began building a telecom business which he sold to a South African concern in 2006 for $5.5 billion.

He has since been involved in several interests within Lebanon, including telecommunications, real estate and energy and aircraft financing.