$3 billion arms grant: Saudis concerned that Hezbollah will be the beneficiary

hezbollah parade
A parade by the Iranian backed Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia.

hezbollah paradeadeSaudi Arabia is reportedly overly concerned that Hezbollah will be the beneficiary of the $3 billion arms deal( the kingdom signed with France last year to supply modern arms to the Lebanese Army ) and is reportedly waiting till a new Lebanese president is elected before any new arms under this grant are shipped, according to an article in the French leading newspaper Le Figaro.

The Saudis “want to wait until Lebanon has a president who conforms to their interests and they can get guarantees that the weapons won’t end up in Hezbollah’s hands,” French journalist Georges Malbrunot wrote in an article published on Friday citing an anonymous French source .

According to the agreement, the Saudis granted Lebanon $3 billion to cover French weapons and training to the Lebanese Army, but so far no arms have been shipped to Lebanon under this deal according to Malbrunot

“I don’t know what happened,” Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi told Malbrunot. “The Lebanese have done their part of the deal. I signed the list of requested arms with the French, and the list was sent it to the Saudis. I went to Saudi Arabia, and we had very good meetings with both Saudi and French authorities. Now we’re just waiting for the Saudi signature.”

Last week, French minister Marylise Lebranchu admitted that the Saudis had concerns about the initial deal, according to a report by the Daily Star

“The Saudis have raised questions about the accord as it was passed,” Lebranchu told reporters after meeting with politicians and civil servants in Beirut last week. “Otherwise, it would have been a done deal by now”.

The Lebanese parliament failed again on September 23 and for the twelfth time in a row to elect a president to replace Michel Suleiman whose term ended on May 25.

As in the past sessions the parliament was unable to reach a quorum because the MPS of Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group and its ally MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc boycotted the sessions.

Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned the session on the election of a president to October 9 after the lack of quorum.

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai slammed the Lebanese politicians for keeping the Baabda presidential palace vacant for several months and accused them of being authoritarian .

“No one is more important than the presidency,” he stressed.

In addition to the $3 billion grant , Saudi Arabia offered The Lebanese Army last August an additional $1 billion military aid package after the battles of Arsal. Unlike the French deal, the latest package is being administered by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who came to Lebanon days after he announced the deal in Jeddah to work out the details with the Lebanese authorities.

Saudi Arabia , which supports the moderate Syrian rebels who are trying to oust the Syrian regime of president Bashar al Assad, regards the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria’s civil war as dangerous and is obviously nervous that the Lebanese arms could end up being used in Syria to support the regime against the moderate rebels.