Michel Aoun’s promised visit to Riyadh

As promised, Riyadh was the first country which Lebanese President Michel Aoun visited since his inauguration.

The venerable president came to Saudi Arabia after the latter contributed to providing political and moral support to resolve the complicated issue of the presidency and helped achieve domestic political consensus in Lebanon. This was all reflected when the parliament’s vast majority voted for Aoun to hold the major Maronite post in the country.

Aoun’s visit expresses a lot during this difficult and sensitive time. Lebanon has been overcoming strong political pitfalls due to the Syrian conflict, which Hezbollah has strongly got involved in with its men, media, speeches, preaches, fatwas and politicians.

The massive Syrian war has politically divided the country. The conflict has caused major polarization on the sectarian level and Iran has brought Shiite militias from across the world to defend “holy shrines” and other sites in Syria which we’ve suddenly discovered is the land of Shiite shrines.

Despite all that, Lebanese politics protected itself from collapsing. After the parliament’s inability to elect a president, politicians gave up on their intransigence and some were even taken by surprise when the Future Movement, and before that the Lebanese Forces, i.e. the Sunnis and the rest of the Maronites, endorsed, Aoun, the candidate whom they agree on with Hezbollah, for the presidency.

Speaking to Al-Ekhbariya television channel in Riyadh, Aoun said: “Domestic conflicts can only end through a political solution.”

The first year of Aoun’s presidential term will be important in terms of indicating the path which Lebanon takes and will show whether Lebanon is capable of breaking Iran’s shackles

Mshari al-Thaydi

Political solution

These statements are in general true. Politics is another face of war while war completes what politics is incapable of. However, a “permanent” political solution does not succeed unless it guarantees the interests of major blocs and a solution cannot be established on the basis of domination and surrender.

President Aoun also addressed terrorism, the issue that occupies politicians in the Middle East and across the world the most. “We all need to cooperate to combat terrorism and we also need to cooperate with Saudi Arabia,” he said.

During a press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said: “We seek (to work) so Lebanon is independent and free of foreign interferences.”

Bassil said the new phase “comprehends many Lebanese distinctions and it has indeed comprehended them and Lebanon has thus become an element uniting its Arab brothers.” Aoun’s second stop will be Qatar and it’s probable that other stops, such as Tehran and Damascus, will be on the list of countries he will visit.

The first year of Aoun’s presidential term will be important in terms of indicating the path which Lebanon takes and will show whether Lebanon is capable of breaking Iran’s shackles.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on January 12, 2017.
Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
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