From salt to scourge, Saudi Arabia-Lebanon standoff is far from over – World – Al-Ahram Weekly

Lebanon’s national currency collapsed again on Monday, exacerbating inflation and people’s desperation (Photo: AP)

The diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon is far from over. Lebanese Agriculture Minister Abbas Hassan added salt to the insult on Tuesday by declaring that the war in Yemen must end, whoever wins. Former Lebanese Information Minister George Kurdahi had addressed the same issue, which prompted Riyadh to ban Lebanese imports and prompted his resignation earlier this month.

In an attempt to reconcile relations, French President Emmanuel Macron has embarked on a tour of the Gulf. In Saudi Arabia, he spoke with Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman and called Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

Macron said on Saturday that France and Saudi Arabia were attached to Lebanon, despite Saudi Arabia’s unease over Iran’s influence over the small Mediterranean country. Crown Prince Ben Salman relayed “a clear message that Saudi Arabia and France want to fully engage,” he said. “We want to commit to supporting the Lebanese people and therefore do everything possible so that the trade and economic reopening can take place,” Macron told reporters in remarks before leaving the Kingdom. “We also want [Lebanese] government to be able to work normally and therefore to meet as soon as possible, and to carry out useful reforms.

This “important step” had no positive impact on Lebanon. Toni Nissi, chairman of the Lebanese International Committee for UN Security Council Resolution 1559, a pro-democracy NGO, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the press release of the meeting held between Bin Salman and Macron expressed positive feelings towards this small country. This is in line with international opinion regarding the resolution of the Lebanese crisis and the way they are looking for ways for the Lebanese government to comply with international agreements, laws and decisions of resolutions 1559 and 1701. These have been taken by the UN Security Council and should implement them. totally for the credibility of Lebanon in the international community. According to Nissi, Kurdahi’s resignation is not enough for them, what is needed is the application of the commitment of the entire Lebanese government to the GCC countries in terms of not exporting drugs to them; the army alone should deal with the arms and security of Lebanon and not use the country as a platform for armed conflict in any Arab country, nor be involved in Yemen’s war against them. Nissi says everything that was mentioned in the press release of the meeting between Ben Salman and Macron is not feasible in terms of reforms to obtain IMF loans, since the Shiite group Hezbollah and its ally Amal impose their control on political life. and block any advance.

The result of the meeting between Ben Salman and Macron had no impact on Hezbollah’s vision for Lebanon or the Middle East, according to the Lebanese writer Kassem Kassir, since for this Shiite group their weapons are sacred and linked to the solution of the conflict. with Israel. For Kassem, discussing Hezbollah’s weapons involves discussions related to defensive strategy. He assured that this Shiite group does not want any confrontation between Lebanon and the Arab world and should not be a victim.

Chadi Nachabe, political scientist and consultant, believes that the Mikati government is capable of managing the Lebanese border and controlling the export of drugs, which are recommendations of the GCC. This positive, achievable point is nevertheless followed by a list of negative and unachievable points, such as the fight against corruption. This is not to say that Lebanon is not part of the common interests of the United States, France, Saudi Arabia and other EU countries, and they do not want security problems in Lebanon. , as he said, because Hezbollah will be the only winner. in this situation. Some foreign countries have concerns about migratory flows if security concerns also arise.

As Lebanon continues to send negative signals to the Arab world, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain expressed in a statement its “regret that the Lebanese capital, Beirut, is hosting a press conference of hostile members in the country. aim to disseminate and promote abusive and malicious allegations against the Kingdom of Bahrain. The ministry added that “an official memorandum of protest has been sent to the general secretariat of the Arab League in this regard, which includes the denunciation by the Kingdom of Bahrain of this unfriendly measure by the Lebanese side”. They called on the Lebanese government to “prevent these reprehensible practices which aim to offend the Kingdom of Bahrain, contradict the most basic diplomatic standards and are incompatible with the fraternal relations which unite the two brotherly peoples”.

Meanwhile, the dollar rate continues to rise and humanitarian conditions worsen with no political or economic solution in sight.

* A print version of this article appears in the December 16, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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