Saudis will resume $3bn military grant, says Ex president Suleiman


Former Lebanese president Michel Suleiman
Former Lebanese president Michel Suleiman
Former Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said that Saudi Arabia will resume the $3 billion grant it pledged to rearm the Lebanese army with French weapons.

Suleiman announced the news in a post to his official Twitter account.

This development comes after reports said that President Michel Aoun’s first foreign trip will be to Saudi Arabia where he intends to push for the reactivation of the Saudi multi billion dollar grant to arm the Lebanese army.

The 3 billion dollar grant for the armament of the Lebanese army with French weapons was suspended last year by the kingdom in protest against the Lebanese government reaction to the burning of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and another Saudi consult in Iran.

Analysts are not sure about the bases of Salesman’s prediction . Whether Aoun will be able to convince the Saudi’s to reactivate the grants is a huge challenge for the newly elected president and boils down to trust according to analysts, because he has been allied with Hezbollah for over 10 years and its is because of Hezbollah and Iran the Saudi’s scrapped the grant.

Last February Saudi Arabia suspended the $3 billion grant for military supplies to the Lebanese army plus another $1 billion for supplies to the Lebanese security forces in response to the diplomatic stance by the Lebanese foreign ministry which was and continues to be headed by Aoun’s son-in-law Foreign minister Gebran Bassil.

Analysts are of the opinion that Saudi Arabia is concerned that Aoun, being a close ally of Hezbollah may allow the party to use some of the weapons in its war in nearby Syria where the militant group is helping the Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad against the Saudi backed rebels .

According to reports that circulated today Hezbollah displayed in the Syrian city of Qusayr on Friday In its first-ever military parade on foreign soil, American equipment similar to those provided to the Lebanese army.

Hezbollah was created by Iran around 1982 and continues to be financially and politically backed by it. Iran remains Saudi Arabia’s regional rival , with whom relations have worsened this year.

Riyadh severed its diplomatic ties with Tehran in January after demonstrators stormed its embassy and a consulate and set them on fire following the Saudi execution of an Iranian backed Saudi Shiite cleric and activist.