Saudi diplomatic activity in Lebanon, based on dialogue and building bridges with various symbols and sections of society, continued through the visits of the Charge d’ Affaires of the Saudi Embassy in Beirut, Walid Bin Abdullah Al-Bukhari, who met with the President of the Supreme Shiite Islamic Council Sheikh Abdul Amir Qablan.
Bukhari supported the stand of Qablan on “Arab and Islamic unity, and to strive for all what is good for the people.” After his visit, Bukhari visited the home of late Hani Fahs, praising his role as “one of the pillars of moderation, religious tolerance and enlightened thought in Lebanon and the region, and that his death was a great loss for this approach which we are in real need of today.”
These activities, based on the promotion of cultural interrelationship, did not start today, but are part of the diplomacy of the Saudi Embassy in Beirut through a series of visits and seminars in a country that represents an important source of thought and writing in the Arab world.
On April 13, 1975, the Saudi Embassy held a cultural symposium entitled ‘Imam al-Sadr’s approach and moderation’. The event highlighted the thoughts and personal positions that believed in equality between human beings, and that the country should embrace all its people.
It is not easy to make a political action plan that relies on “soft” power as this force needs great skill and deep cultural and social understandingHassan Al Mustafa
Opposition to civil war
Sadr was opposed to ‘civil war’ and sought openness for all religions in Lebanon and the Arab world, to establish political and cultural understandings that would serve as a safety net against crises and wars, thus creating an environment in which people would live in dignity and pride.
In 1974, Imam Musa al-Sadr visited Saudi Arabia and met with the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz. Moreover, Sadr has had personal relations since the early 1970s with the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, when he was Emir, where they were brought together on many special occasions and meetings.
Recalling the memory of the relationship between Sadr and Saudi Arabia at this time, following the visit of Moqtada al-Sadr to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is of special importance, as it strengthens the rational position against the sectarian discourse.
Building on this memory, and the Sadr family’s religious and philosophical presence in the Gulf, will provide the momentum for positive relations, with moderate approaches that support the stability and security of the region.
Diplomacy based on ‘soft power’
Culture, dialogue and communication are effective and constructive Saudi diplomacy tools. These tools are capable of building bridges and establishing dialogue as a true solution for the crisis that prevails in the region today.
Diplomacy has its “soft” tools, which some may underestimate, despise or consider insignificant, forgetting that the concept of international relations is basically based on communication, negotiation, reaching compromises and understandings, and creating common grounds.
It is not easy to make a political action plan that relies on “soft” power as this force needs great skill and deep cultural and social understanding. It also needs expert implementers, who can understand the contradictions that prevail in society, and who can face and overcome the difficult situations with ease.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Hassan AlMustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters. His twitter handle is @halmustafa.