The political pace is accelerating towards improving relations with the Gulf states, but turning the page on the Lebanese-Saudi differences is not on the horizon, as the obstacles for the Saudis are not over. Any new developments that have not yet emerged regarding the official Lebanese position on Hezbollah and its weapons. From this standpoint, Lebanon’s official response to the Kuwaiti initiative, which some observers describe, is the response to “the art of the possible” for reasons related to Lebanon’s political structure, outside the exchange in the corridors of Riyadh.
The head of the Lebanese-Gulf Economic Relations Development Authority, Elie Rizk, says: The political class failed to come up with a unified position in its response to the Gulf and international initiative, which was aimed at emphasizing Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, Arab depth, and its civilized, cultural and economic role in the region. This is due to the presence of a political group that persists in taking Lebanon hostage to political positions that are not in the interest of Lebanon and the Lebanese as much as they are in the interest of Iran and its expansionist role in the region. While we are required to weave the best relations with all countries of the world, except with the Israeli enemy. We do not want hostility to Saudi Arabia for the sake of Iran, nor do we want hostility to Iran for the sake of Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, the absence of a Lebanese consensus on this issue puts us in the eye of the storms that are blowing in the region and affecting more than one Arab capital.
Undoubtedly, a unified Gulf position will be issued in the coming days, linking to the international position on the Lebanese response, and it will put all political forces in front of the fait accompli. Either they preserve Lebanon’s unity and sovereignty and prevent Lebanon from turning into a corridor and headquarters for the smuggling of Captagon and drugs, and embrace some of its parties and support them for destabilizing organizations. Security and stability in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the capitals of Arab countries, or they accept the new reality that will place Lebanon in the category of “enemy” countries to the Gulf, and this will have economic repercussions and living crises, Rizk tells “Lebanon 24.”
Noting in this context, the UN Security Council affirmed yesterday its strong support for Lebanon’s stability, security, territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1701 (2006), 1680 (2006), 1559 (2004) and 2591 (2021), and this is in line with the initiative Kuwait, whose provisions coincide with the statement of the UN Security Council.
The Gulf-European accounts of the crisis in Lebanon are identical, and therefore there is a conviction of the need to raise the level of pressure on Hezbollah to return to its Lebaneseness, and there is complete agreement, according to Rizk, on the need for Lebanon to implement the international resolutions (1701, 1559), as Lebanon is under the weight of arms and corruption. And Hezbollah is taking Lebanon to regional paths that do not serve the national interest. There are political forces that have perpetuated corruption under the cover of the party.
Accordingly, the Gulf states no longer have confidence in the ability of any Lebanese political group to give them any guarantees. As the head of the Lebanese-Gulf Economic Relations Development Authority says, it considers that the political forces in Lebanon are divided into two groups: a group that has the ability but does not have the desire (Hezbollah and President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun) and a group that has the desire but does not have the ability in front of the party’s strength. This reality created great Saudi resentment that reached the point of “disgust” and refraining from interfering with everything that is Lebanese. It is not at all true that there is an heir to Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia.
Neither Baha al-Hariri, nor the head of the Forces Party, Samir Geagea, nor the head of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, and everything that is rumored in this regard is the work of his divorcees. There is a Saudi conviction of the necessity of a complete withdrawal from the Lebanese arena at the present time, with Rizk indicating that the Gulf states will engage in the negotiation process with Iran in a way that protects its interests, and Lebanon will be left to its destiny and the desire of its sons.
In the midst of this scene, the international insistence on the need for the government to take measures related to the implementation of reforms and the plan for financial and economic recovery remains. Here, Rizk says, negotiations with the IMF are linked to political and security stability. This is in addition to the fact that no loans will be granted to Lebanon in the absence of a transparent budget that is absent from the reform provisions, and required reforms such as (reforming the electricity sector and reducing the size of the public sector in terms of salaries and wages through the application of the concept of PPP), may constitute an incentive for donor countries to provide loans. Accordingly, there is no Arab aid to Lebanon in the foreseeable future, and Gulf support is not linked to the term of President Michel Aoun and its end. The return of investments to Lebanon depends on how to solve the problem of Hezbollah’s weapons and hold the corrupt accountable.