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Lebanon's newly formed Cabinet. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

After months of protests and unrest, a Hezbollah-backed prime minister and Cabinet are assuming leadership in Lebanon as they meet for the first time on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Prime Minister Hassan Diab is inheriting a plethora of problems he must address quickly if he hopes to financially stabilize Lebanon and win the trust of protesters. He must also quell the nerves of the Arab Gulf states — who are concerned about Hezbollah's growing influence in Beirut and hesitant to extend financial support as a result, per Reuters.

The state of play: Lebanon has essentially been without any leadership or structured government since former Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in October 2019.

  • Lebanon is in a state of economic crisis and is currently struggling with a public debt equal to 150% of its GDP, per Reuters.
  • Protesters have been in the streets rallying against political corruption and calling for sweeping reform since October.
  • Diab said his first trip as prime minister will be to other Arab countries, specifically the Gulf states.
  • The mostly peaceful protests became violent this past weekend for the first time, leaving 540 protesters and police wounded, per Al Jazeera.

What they're saying: "This [is a] government that does not aspire to cronyism and favors," Diab said, according to Al Jazeera. "None of the members of the government will be standing for the next elections. This government is made up of non-partisan people who are not affected by political wrangling."

The Cabinet: Diab is a 60-year-old former professor at the American University of Beirut, Al Jazeera notes.

  • Many of Diab's Cabinet members have limited or no experience relating to the new ministries they lead, per the New York Times.
  • Worth noting: Six of the new ministers are women, including those for defense, justice and labor — making Lebanon a "rarity" in the Middle East, the Times notes.

The bottom line: In order for Lebanon to financially stabilize, Diab will have to make tough decisions such as imposing capital control and cutting down civil services, which could further alienate him with protesters, per the Times.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.

31 mins ago - Technology

Why domestic terrorists are so hard to police online

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Domestic terrorism has proven to be more difficult for Big Tech companies to police online than foreign terrorism.

The big picture: That's largely because the politics are harder. There's more unity around the need to go after foreign extremists than domestic ones — and less danger of overreaching and provoking a backlash.

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