Lebanon’s first female interior minister discusses US support

In her first televised interview, Lebanon’s first female Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan who spoke to Al Arabiya in a wide-ranging interview including on issues of border security, the situation of Syrian refugees in the country and what her appointment means for the future of female Arab politicians.

Al-Hassan, who is the deputy head of the Lebanese Future Movement party, Hassan became the first woman interior minister in Lebanon and the Middle East in a cabinet line-up unveiled by Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri in late January following an eight-month delay.

During the last joint meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers of Interior and Justice, al-Hassan said she did not feel at odds.

“When I was the finance minister I was the only woman too, so it wasn’t new to me, although that had more masculinity to it,” al-Hassan said.

The Lebanese interior minister also spoke on the stability of Lebanese security following the support from several international countries and pre-emptive operations by internal security forces who uncovered several sleeper cells and terrorists who might have carried out attacks.

“The Americans are one of the most important supporters, especially in the field of training and arming of the internal and general security forces. There are also other donors such as the British and the EU and the French and we are lucky that there is serious work by donors to support the official security forces in Lebanon,” al-Hassan said.

Regarding Arab support to Lebanon, al-Hassan said that several Middle Eastern countries have focused their support on other areas.

“There is some support for the security services, but I think they prefer to put their aid elsewhere, in the social and economic sectors and this is what we saw at the CEDER and previous conferences,” she said.

“We really need some assistance in Training and other matters that the security body needs. But this is of course up to the Arab countries. They are the ones to decide what kind of aid is suitable for them,” she added.

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