Former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Lebanese government has declared that it is necessary that Lebanon and its Arab brothers overcome obstacles and stabilize their relations, relating to the recent crisis in Lebanon's relations with Saudi Arabia following the latter's decision to stop delivering aid to the Lebanese army.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia announced that it was halting its $3 billion aid package to the Lebanese army in what an official called a response to Beirut's failure to condemn an attack on the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran in December. However, many Saudi political analysts suggested that the suspension of aid was actually a Saudi reaction to the failure of negotiations for the release of the Saudi prince, Abdul Mohsen bin Walid, who was caught attempting to smuggle drugs out of Lebanon in November. Analysts say that by halting the aid, Saudi authorities are trying to exert pressure on the Lebanese government to force Hezbollah, which is trying to extort the kingdom in exchange for the prince's release, to be more flexible in its demands.
Gathering for an emergency meeting Monday evening to discuss Lebanon's stance towards the Saudi decision, the Lebanese government, divided between Hezbollah representatives and the opposing al-Mustaqbal camp, headed by Saad Hariri, attempted to reach an agreed statement regarding Lebanon's relations with the Saudi kingdom.
The government statement read: "Lebanon will never forget the Saudi hosting of the Taif conference that put an end to the Lebanese civil war, as well as the Saudi contribution to Lebanon's rehabilitation following that war."
"We will also never forget that Saudi Arabia has hosted and continues hosting hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilians."
In addition to this placating statement, Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam fulfilled the Saudi demand and condemned the attack on Saudi diplomats in Iran, defining it as a violation of international law.
Lebanon's courting efforts increased after Hariri presented his Charter of Solidarity with the Arabic Consensus," a document that emphasizes the important relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and calls on the kingdom to continue aiding Lebanon. Seeking to demonstrate Lebanese popular support for Saudi Arabia, Hariri invited all the Lebanese citizens to sign the charter.