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Lebanon and hot air

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

Kuwait’s diplomacy is famed for its attempts to bridge the gaps and bring Arab states closer. This was especially true under the late Emir of Kuwait Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Today, Kuwait continues his legacy, albeit in different ways. Before I delve into the developments relating to Lebanon’s response to the message that Kuwait addressed to the Lebanese state recently, I would like to note the Kuwaiti Crown Prince’s statement during the Arab Foreign Ministers’ meeting, in which he underscored the need to improve good-neighborly relations. We previously witnessed Kuwait’s keenness to see the infamous disputes between Gulf states come to an end - a keenness that was received by acceptance and reservation, for different reasons. But that’s beside the point.

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The point is that Kuwait cannot be considered antagonistic to Arab interests (we all remember the Kuwait Conferences on Yemen between the Houthis and the legitimate government, with Saudi and international support). Rather, Kuwait is constantly seeking to bring viewpoints closer and look for solutions, including quick fixes in the style of Lebanese politics.

Speaking of the Lebanese political scene, many statements dealt recently in the Lebanese political market have cast doubt on the Kuwaiti mediation between Lebanon and Gulf states.

Yesterday, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser al-Muhammad al-Sabah said Gulf states have received Lebanon’s response to the terms suggested by Kuwait to ease tensions and will thoroughly consider this response before deciding the next step in the diplomatic crisis. “We received the response. It will be studied by the relevant authorities in Kuwait and in the Gulf to determine what the next step is with Lebanon,” said the Minister.

The Minister had submitted to the Lebanese authorities a list of suggested measures to be taken by Lebanon to thaw diplomatic ties with Arab Gulf states.

Clearly, the message that the Minister conveyed to Lebanon came not only from Kuwait, but also from Gulf states, and perhaps even from international players in a sense. Its essence lies in that Lebanon refrains from engaging in interventions that are harmful to Arab states, foremost of which is Iran-backed Hezbollah’s actions. It is no secret that Hezbollah has played a “malicious” role in Yemen against Saudi Arabia and the UAE, not to mention its doings in Kuwait itself (Al-Abdali cell, for instance). Therefore, curbing Hezbollah’s nefarious actions is the essential demand, but can the “state” of Lebanon truly do anything about that? What about the tons of drugs that are being shipped to Saudi Arabia and Gulf states from Syria and Lebanon?

We know that the “justified” rift with the Lebanese state has aggravated the economic collapse in the country, which is suffering from a financial crisis that the World Bank described as one of the worst in modern history. Interestingly, over 300,000 Lebanese citizens live and work in Gulf states, and I think most of them disapprove of the losses that Hezbollah is causing them.

Until Lebanon becomes a real state, there will be no solution for the crisis between Gulf states and Lebanon. All the other nonsense that some Lebanese politicians brilliantly come up with is hot air.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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