What harmed Saudi Arabia’s image in Lebanon the most is that it was presented in the popular consciousness as a cash machine to whoever announces their support for it. Back then, a major aspect of Lebanese politics adopted the approach of political blackmail for the past decades.
Blackmail, via the policy of axes, is a game that Lebanese politicians mastered and inherited in their relations with countries that do not border them; with Abdelnasser, Gaddafi, Saddam and Gulf countries.
during the long civil war, many parties sought to exploit the Saudi influence to manage their battles and justify their shifts. Perhaps President Bachir Gemayel was, during his last year, the most objective in formulating the relationship and looked at it as two states, not a sect and a state. His heir Dr. Samir Geagea, however, seems crammed within the sect’s fences.
It’s not in Saudi Arabia’s interest to respond to being lured towards small political details, as it was applied in the past phase where it was preoccupied with small matters at the expense of the major issues desired by everyoneFares bin Hezam
Before 1975 when the civil war erupted, Syria did not have the influence of Assad’s era and Iran did not have a frank interest in the country of cedars. Lebanon today stands on the cusp of a similar phase. Syria’s new is that it’s completely preoccupied with Bashar’s survival or departure, even if the men of the Baath regime re-deploy following the elections.
There’s a similar case with Iran in the journey of sanctions and its repercussions. The voices of Arab Shiites seem heard and Hezbollah’s popularity is declining. The Palestinians’ situation in the entire picture back then is not any better: a heavily armed militia.
A new phase
The other difference is that in our era, there are no dictatorships with expansive dreams like Egypt’s Abdelnasser, Libya’s Qaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam.
OPINION: If it wasn’t for Riyadh, there would be no castle in Qatar
It’s the chance for the voice of moderation spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. This will not be brought forward as long as those who reject Iran and Syria’s Assad rely on others to fight their battles as neither Riyadh nor anyone else is in the prospect of fighting the Lebanese people’s battles in Lebanon.
It’s not in Saudi Arabia’s interest to respond to being lured towards small political details, as it was applied in the past phase where it was preoccupied with small matters at the expense of the major issues desired by everyone. Previous experiences proved that luring is a trap which many countries have fallen into and which led to political blackmail.
ALSO READ: In Iran, the past is a different country
What’s certain is that the conscious state looks for the new in its future by betting on men who are true to their word to create what’s new, efficient and real in the country. What’s new in Lebanon is actually the same old image. How can you call your worn-out games in politics new? How can some voices say that this is a modern phase?
The Saudi message today is that traditional diplomacy has changed, and it’s no longer based on money in exchange of temporary stances.
Despite that, there is a chance to create a secure future for Lebanon, and this will not only be accomplished via a foreign solution, thus, the Lebanese people must not expect a hand to strike without them to restore security and achieve justice.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Fares bin Hezam is Editor-in-Chief at Al Arabiya News Channel.