Now I really do despair of Lebanon’s golden era ever returning; at least not during my lifetime. In the early 1970s, my frequent visits to a place where people were friendly and always welcoming were always special, which is one of the reasons I was driven to invest in Beirut, so beautiful and so blessed. Sadly, whereas Gulf nationals appreciate everything Lebanon has to offer, a Lebanese minority is willing to sacrifice the country’s future on the altar of sectarianism and hatred.
Gulf states have always stood by Lebanon in good times and bad. Saudi Arabia, in particular has been a good friend to the Lebanese people; last year alone, Riyadh pledged to provide the Lebanese government with a $3 billion grant to upgrade its military that was followed-up with a further $ 1billion in military aid to assist the army to fend off ISIS fighters.
Lebanon has traditionally been the go-to holiday destination for Saudis and Gulf Arabs and by some estimates there are hundreds of thousands of Lebanese expatriates in Saudi, the UAE and Qatar alone, many of which send regular remittances to their families at home. So when the Lebanese economy is depressed - weighed down by the needs of 1.5 million Syrian refugees - and its tourism industry has taken a severe knock due to Lebanon’s unstable security environment, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah decides this is the time to be as offensive as he possibly can to the Saudi leadership and its coalition partners.
Not only are Saudis upset over his vicious diatribe, rebroadcast on Lebanon’s State TV, so are their Gulf neighbours. I don’t want to repeat Nasrallah’s exact words. I’ll paraphrase. In essence, he behaved like the obedient Iranian puppet he is by announcing his hope that the Saudi-led Arab coalition battling Houthi militias in Yemen would be defeated which, he said, would impact the Kingdom’s internal stability and its ruling monarchy. He’s no savvy politician. If he thinks insulting Saudi Arabia will resurrect Hezbollah’s dwindling popularity, he’s mistaken.
Erasing the hurt
I stopped being shocked at anything Hezbollah does years ago, especially since its triggering of a war with Israel in 2006Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor