Some groups in Lebanon still fall into the same wishful thinking trap as concerns the outcome of the French President’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar. But reality could not be further from the wishes of these Lebanese groups.
Sure, Lebanon was on the agenda of the Saudi-French summit, but so were many other files: Iran, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, economy and military industry issues, digital economy, water, and many other files.
So, why swim in muddied waters when the Saudi-French statement has been released and published, as were the comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron following his meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman?
The Saudi-French joint statement was clear as day, especially in underscoring the urgency of confronting Iran’s destabilizing activities and in conveying deep concerns about its nuclear program and lack of cooperation and transparency with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
As pertains to Yemen and the reliance of some groups on a Saudi setback and French pressures, the joint statement reaffirmed the need for a political solution to the Yemeni crisis that builds on the GCC initiative and its executive mechanism, as well as the outcomes of the comprehensive national dialogue, and the relevant Security Council Resolutions, including Resolution 2216. In this context, France emphasized its absolute support for the Saudi peace initiative proposed on 22 March 2021.
As for Lebanon, there was no mystery shrouding the statement. The Crown Prince spoke clearly, and the French President surely perceived this clarity. Both the French and Saudi leaders agreed that Lebanon’s government must implement comprehensive reforms, particularly by abiding by the Taif agreement, which was designed to preserve the country’s national unity and civil peace, as well as restricting the use of weapons to the state’s legitimate institutions. It was also emphasized that Lebanon must not be a springboard for any terror acts that undermine the region’s stability and security, nor the source of any drug trafficking operations.
Who’s inflicting Lebanon with all these political calamities and security burdens? It’s certainly not the Australian Koala Protection Party, nor the Turtle Love Organization. The first and last entity responsible for Lebanon’s miseries is the so-called Hezbollah, Iran’s party in Lebanon. In his latest interview on Al-Jazeera, Lebanese President Michel Aoun tried to normalize Hezbollah’s domination of decisionmaking in Lebanon by saying that the party represents one-third of the Lebanese population!
The time for manipulation in grey zones has ended. Now is the time for Lebanon’s politicians and stakeholders to stop being politically spoiled brats who talk with a civil state logic but act in ways that could not be farther from the civil state concept.
Saudi Arabia and moderate states have no time to waste on such political stunts and acrobatics. The situation in the region is all the more alarming, as we stand before an aggressive Iran and a bewildered America.
At the end of his visit, Macron said: “The Saudi Crown Prince was clear, as he has always been, in expressing his concern, as well as his desire in maintaining peace. He has a very clear stance in this regard.”
This article was originally published in, and translated from, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.