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HOW much longer will we fool ourselves that Lebanon’s loyalties rest with the Arab World? During a recent Arab League emergency meeting of foreign ministers, called by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to discuss measures to be taken in answer to Iran’s “terrorist acts” and its aggression against Saudi Arabia, it was clear that Beirut stands with the enemy.
Ignoring the urging of the League’s Secretary General Nabil El Araby for all “to adopt a strong and clear position calling on Iran to stop all forms of interference in the affairs of Arab nations,” Lebanon abstained from voting on a resolution denouncing Iran’s threatening actions, supported by all other member states.
Lebanon’s failure to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its Arab brothers proves its independence has been quashed under the Iranian boot. This sorry state of affairs is well-known but now that Beirut has taken sides there is no room for doubt; it has been rubber-stamped
The statement is to be followed up by the formation of a committee to include representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – countries that have either severed or downgraded relations with Iran – tasked with monitoring the crisis and proposing further measures against Tehran, if necessary. Saudi will also hold talks with its Arab allies on future steps.
I was shocked and disappointed to learn of the Lebanese stance, apparently prompted by the statement’s admonition of Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah over its blatant interference in Bahrain’s domestic affairs.
“The statement that was made with regard to Bahrain does not reflect the position and the policy of the Lebanese government nor that of the political party [the Aounist Free Patriotic Movement] I represent,” Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil is quoted as saying. Why some Maronite Christians are hand-in-glove with Iran’s puppet is beyond my understanding unless their motive is to feather their own nests.
“Lebanon’s implicit position does not differ from that of the Arab states in their statement regarding non-interference in the affairs of Bahrain. However, the statement that was made was against Lebanon or a certain Lebanese party, which I certainly rejected…” said this individual, who had previously held ministerial posts in the cabinets of March 14th leaders Fouad Siniora and Saad Hariri.
Bassil poured salt in the treacherous wound adding, “It is worth noting that the statement was issued in contradiction with the principles of the Arab League and its charter, but we did not want to raise this point since we do not want to cause problems with any Arab state.” How considerate of him! The truth is that any suggestion of impropriety from him would have been shot down by all other Arab League members, and he knows that.
He went on to grumble that promised Arab aid has yet to manifest. In other words, he slaps Lebanon’s traditional Arab benefactors while expecting those states to prop up a paralyzed government unable to cleanse the country from mountains of rotting garbage, a parliament that has failed to agree upon a new president in over 18 months and an ineffective army dominated by Shiite militias with billions of dollars.
The fact is that in 2014 the Kingdom gifted the Lebanese army $1bn and in April last year, marked the first delivery of French-made weapons and military equipment to the Lebanese Armed Forces under a $3bn Saudi grant to re-establish “a Lebanese army capable of responding to new security realities”.
In my view, Lebanon’s army is in greater need of patriotism than weapons. Just as the political arena has stopped functioning due to Hezbollah’s blackmail, the infiltrated military machine has Hezbollah’s cog in its wheel preventing it from doing its job. No amount of cash in the world can buy love of country from those with a mandate to defend it from hostile entities whether outside the country or within.
It is true that Lebanon is financially burdened by a massive influx of Syrian refugees in addition to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. But it is also the case that if Hezbollah and its Iranian Master had not thrown their backing behind the criminal Assad regime, that regime might have collapsed years ago when there was a viable opposition waiting in the wings to form a caretaker government in Syria as a prelude to elections.
Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria had nothing to do with securing Lebanese interests but was carried on a command from Iran’s ayatollahs. Hezbollah is responsible for contributing to the mass displacement of the Syrian people fleeing regime bombs and for making Lebanon a target of terrorist groups.
Gibran Bassil asserts that Lebanon has a policy of non-interference in the affairs of other countries. If so, it is not worth the paper it is written on when the militia he defends did not think twice about tearing it up to serve its masters.
Head of the Future Movement Saad Hariri expressed his regret over his country’s abstention in a statement released by his press office, which read: “The abstention of Lebanon’s Foreign Minister to vote on the Arab League’s resolution does not reflect the opinion of the majority of the Lebanese who are suffering from the Iran interference in their internal affairs”. I believe him.
I have many Lebanese friends and almost all would celebrate the day Hezbollah disappeared in puff of smoke. They variously refer to themselves as Arabs or Levantines; certainly not Persians. Most Lebanese I know are passionate about their country and its beautiful blessings from God but, sadly, the political and military establishment continue to thwart their ambitions of seeing Lebanon bloom as it did in its glory days during the 1950’s, 60’s and early 70’s before civil war halted its progress.
Let the good Lebanese stand up with courage and fortitude to ask for help in chopping the Iranian hand that strangles their children’s future. And in the meantime, I would call upon Saudi not to throw any more money Lebanon’s way, which could so easily end up fattening the militias pockets. Moreover, the Arab League should reconsider Lebanon’s membership until it is ready to pledge which side of the fence it is truly on.
By Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor