Exactly one year ago, on the 1st of November, I wrote an article titled “What will Aoun achieve?” Actually, all the opinions I presented came true, as it was a correct reading of the history of the current Lebanese President Michel Aoun, his "disturbed" approach, personal interests and his old and reawakened dreams!
Undoubtedly, Saad Hariri’s resignation from his post as Lebanese Prime Minister will not turn into a big crisis between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. However, it has become a real crisis for the Iranian influenced and funded camp in Lebanon.
At the peak of the pyramid of power, Aoun has been affected by a slight mental derangement that has made him leave aside his presidential affairs and devote his time to firing statements accusing Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri, who announced his resignation from Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia repeatedly denied these charges. Furthermore, Hariri himself denied them many times. He was received by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in his office at Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh. Hariri also flew to Abu Dhabi where he met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Muhammad Bin Zayed. He then returned to Riyadh.
Hariri also met with the Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who paid the first visit by a Maronite religious leader to Saudi Arabia. After a series of tweets by Hariri confirming that he was free to move wherever he wanted and that he would return to Lebanon, Aoun came up with a new fabrication: that it was not only Hariri who was being held but his family, as well, were being held in Riyadh.
Michel Aoun is the clearest example of politicians who are not governed by principles or morals, but by their interests and gainsJameel al-Thiyabi
Echoing Tehran’s views
Actually, Aoun is a capricious person. He is ready to change his convictions for the slightest reason. When he chose to speak on the allegations that Hariri was detained in Riyadh, he had actually decided to echo Tehran’s views. Aoun was speaking on behalf of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who preceded him on the same day in stating similar allegations.
Strangely enough, apart from both having Iranian inclinations, both are in the post of a “dummy” president. In Iran, all power is in the hands of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In Lebanon, the real power is in the hands of the Iranian Hezbollah.
Michel Aoun is the clearest example of politicians who are not governed by principles or morals, but by their interests and gains. He was obsessed by the ambition to reach the Baabda Palace (the Lebanese Presidential Palace). He was bent on achieving his interests and did not give a hoot that it would divide the ranks of the Christian community he belonged to.
He accepted Iran’s offer, via its puppet “Hezbollah” that they would enable him to become President in return for being at Iran’s beck and call. There was a blackout on the price of this deal by giving glittering promises to the Sunni, Shiite and Christian communities that were not under Iranian influence.
They were promised that Hezbollah would not be an impeding power in the government. They were also promised that Hezbollah would keep Lebanon neutral vis-à-vis the conflicts ablaze in the region, especially the civil war in Syria. On this basis, the Sunnis led by Hariri, accepted that Aoun be president and Hariri should form a government.
No sooner had the deal been concluded than Iran pushed Hezbollah to boost its participation in the Syrian war, so as to defend the Bashar Assad regime and set up an armed presence in Iraq and Yemen. Furthermore, Hezbollah impeded the Hariri government until it was incapable of fulfilling its promises to the Lebanese people.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who is President Aoun’s son-in-law, shaped Lebanon’s policy the way Iran and its terrorist party wanted. Bassil’s contradictory stances were so numerous that Aoun became the headline for the political current that was waging a war to undermine Lebanon’s Arab character.
This current was bent on instilling a Persian identity for Lebanon to appease Tehran, which was represented by Hassan Nasrallah and the Iranian weapons he was brandishing at the Syrian state and people, the Sunnis in Iraq and the people and children of Yemen.
Therefore, Aoun has decided to persist in distorting the image of Saudi Arabia in collusion with his Iranian ally. This was after his decision in January 2017 to make Riyadh the destination for his first external visit after taking the oath of office. The problem is that Aoun is not the only evil person in the Lebanese arena. But the number of good people in Lebanon is greater than those who are evil.
The leaders of the Christian, Druze and Sunni communities have reached a consensus to value the Saudi role in boosting Lebanon’s security and strengthening its economy, without bragging or harming anyone. These good people recall with all loyalty the role the Kingdom played in bringing together all the Lebanese factions embroiled in the 1975-1990 civil war.
The Kingdom brought them together in Taif and they reached an agreement that put an end to the bloodshed in Lebanon. The Lebanese are still benefitting from the results of the Taif Agreement, despite evil people devoting all their time and effort to creating tension and attempting to booby-trap the political and social atmosphere. This is due to their belief that Iranian arms and money will place Lebanon under the hegemony of Iran’s agents and puppets.
Hariri was pragmatic enough to tender his resignation instead of taking refuge with his sect and allies in one trench so as to embark on an armed confrontation against Hezbollah and its puppets. His resignation revealed the real reason for the crisis in Lebanon; that is, Hezbollah’s hegemony and meddling as well as Iran’s interference.
This resignation aroused the madness of “the general” and his son-in-law because it simply removed the Sunni cover from Aoun’s presidency. If Hariri does not withdraw his resignation, Lebanon will suffer due to a vacuum in the prime minister’s office, the way the country suffered earlier from a presidential vacuum.
Undoubtedly, Hariri’s resignation is purely a Lebanese issue and a decision Hariri himself had taken. If Aoun believes that by spreading his lies, falsehoods and rumors and mobilizing the satellite channels and newspapers financed by terrorist Hezbollah, he will succeed in spoiling Saudi Arabia’s reputation, then he is mistaken as he has been since the time he was the Commander of the Lebanese Army. This was prior to his escape to France.
The reason is that the internal and external Saudi media networks are stronger than Aoun’s smear campaign through his yellow-page newspapers and shaky Iranian satellite channels.
But, Saudi Arabia, as a state, will not do the same because it realizes very well that Lebanon is not Aoun alone nor Hezbollah alone. The Kingdom’s reply will be what he sees and not what he hears. Let’s see after the return of Hariri what excuses Aoun will come up with and who he will scapegoat for his fiascoes in dealing with the real, essential reasons that led the head of the government to tender his resignation.
Not only this, but he failed to find a Lebanese Sunni leader to succeed Hariri as Prime Minister, as the leader of the Future Movement did not budge from his resignation. He stuck to the resignation he announced, amid very critical circumstances.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on November 22, 2017.
Jameel al-Thiyabi is a Saudi journalist who has held different editorial positions at al-Hayat and Okaz newspapers. Al-Thiyabi holds a master’s degree in diplomacy and media from the UK. He has spent over 20 years in the media, working first with Asharq Al-Awsat in London and then with LBC TV.