Lebanon paying price for Hezbollah terror


The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) strongly backed here Saturday the Kingdom’s decision to halt its $3 billion military aid to Lebanon, and to conduct a comprehensive review of its relations with that country.

The whopping Saudi security grants were meant for equipping dormant Lebanon’s army and police in order to make them more capable and competent.

“The GCC states support the Saudi decision as Lebanon policies now sharply contravene pan-Arab consensus, Arab interests and objectives of Arab solidarity,” said GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani.

“The GCC regretfully believes that Lebanon’s decision became hostage to foreign regional interests and goes against the Arab national security,” he added.

Al-Zayani, however, hoped that Lebanon would reconsider its stances and its policies toward its Arab neigbors that run counter to the interests of Arab nations.

He underlined the fact that Lebanon’s official positions don’t represent its people, calling on that state to revise its foreign policies and to refrain from joining hands with forces that aim to destabilize the region by supporting terrorism and divisive forces.

Referring to the Saudi move to suspend aid, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said that he can understand the reasons of the Saudi decision to suspend military grants to the Lebanese army and security force.

“Lebanon will pay the price of some Lebanese parties’ wrong policies; which could harm the country’s interests,” he added.

On the other hand, a prominent Lebanese politician Samir Geagea urged his government on Saturday to punish “armed parties” in Lebanon involved in insulting “brotherly” Arab states, in remarks seen as an indirect reference to the militant group Hezbollah, according to Al-Arabiyah website. Geagea, leader of the Christian party Lebanese Forces, urged Saudi Arabia to reconsider its suspension of the package to the Lebanese army.

In a televised speech, he indirectly called for punishing Hezbollah over a stance that expressed a deepening hostility toward Saudi Arabia.

The surprise move prompted Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam to call on Saudi leaders to reconsider the decision.

“We express our deep appreciation for Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and his brothers in the Saudi leadership,” said Salam.

“We hope for a reconsideration of the decision to halt the aid for our army and security forces,” he said in a statement.

The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported earlier that Riyadh was suspending the package pledged in 2013, with an official saying it was a response to Beirut’s failure to condemn attacks on the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.

The Saudi decision comes after Lebanon declined to support resolutions against Iran during two meetings of Arab and Muslim foreign ministers at the League of Arab States and also at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

On Friday, a Saudi official was quoted by SPA as saying the Iran-backed Hizbollah had “hijacked the will of the state in Lebanon” and “is perpetrating terrorism against Saudi Arabia, the Arab nations and the Muslim nations.”

The Saudi official blamed the influence of Iran-backed Hizbollah in Lebanon for Riyadh’s decision, denouncing the group’s political and media campaigns countries.

The Saudi decision was widely hailed by political analysts and think thanks of the Kingdom and the region.

“The decision to halt military aid is indeed a right step,” said a political analyst.

He said that the Kingdom had been giving billions of riyals in aid and grants to Lebanon.

About 350,000 Lebanese have been living and working in Saudi Arabia, he said.

The Lebanese workers have been remitting about $4.5 billion annually from the Kingdom to their country or to their families and relatives living in other countries outside Lebanon.

In a separate development, Morocco decided not to host the 2016 Arab League meeting.

The annual meeting, which would have been the group’s 27th, was initially set for on March 29 in the Moroccan tourist city of Marrakesh but had already been postponed to April 7.

“Amid the lack of important decisions and concrete initiatives to submit to the heads of states, this summit will be just an other occasion to approve ordinary resolutions and to pronounce speeches that give a false impression of unity,” a statement from the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said.


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