What lies beneath Lebanese president’s verbal attack against Saudi Arabia

Michel Aoun during a welcome ceremony under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on September 25, 2017. (AFP)

Lebanese President Michel Aoun did what can only be described as launching a verbal attack politically on Saudi Arabia even as Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai wrapped up his historic visit to the kingdom.

Lebanese sources said Aoun’s campaign fell within the context of acting on behalf of Hezbollah, which is isolated on the Arab and international levels.

Aoun echoed accusations that Hariri was detained in Saudi Arabia and spoke of a supposed aggression on Lebanon and its independence and dignity.

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Aoun and Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who is Aoun’s son-in-law, used an unprecedented rhetoric against Saudi Arabia, which has been Lebanon’s traditional ally and biggest donor over decades. They went as far as hinting to pursue Riyadh on the international level.

The campaign came hours after Rai said he understood the motives behind Hariri’s resignation, and which are related to Hezbollah’s persistence to pursue its regional role, and voiced the need for a new settlement that replaces the settlement, which brought Aoun as president.

Directed against Rai

Some observers said Aoun’s statements were also directed against Rai and warned of distant ties between him and his religious reference, in exchange of complete political affiliation to Hezbollah.

This attachment increases the Lebanese people’s fears of the consequences of bad relations with Saudi Arabia and Arab countries.

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It was concluded that Aoun’s campaign against Saudi Arabia represents a coup on the history of joint relations between the two countries. The political escalation against Riyadh thus falls within the context of disrupting Rai’s historical visit to Saudi Arabia.

Maronites in particular, and the Lebanese people in general, rely on this visit to confirm communication rather than lead to severance with negative results due to this unprecedented campaign in the history of Lebanese-Saudi relations.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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