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BY: Khairallah Khairallah

“Lebanon cannot, with its current president L or its resigned government, headed by Hassan Diab R , a man with no credibility, make contact with any foreign country, especially in the Arab world. In the final analysis, Lebanon is in need of someone who can perform this task in their stead.” Writes Khairallah Khairallah

In clearer terms, Lebanon cannot, with its current president or its resigned government, headed by Hassan Diab, a man with no credibility, make contact with any foreign country, especially in the Arab world. In the final analysis, Lebanon is in need of someone who can perform this task in their stead.

What happened set a precedent in the history of relations between states, in addition to the international recognition that Lebanon is a failed state.

The announcement that the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, would travel to Saudi Arabia, accompanied by French Ambassador Anne Griot, to hold meetings with Saudi officials, served to illustrate a clear international decision, an American and European decision in particular. The decision is to deal with the Lebanese reality from a new perspective.

The new starting point is that the Lebanese political class is deficient in fulfilling what is required of it towards the country on the one hand, and that President Michel Aoun, on the other hand, cannot deal with the outside world. That is, with the Arab countries that were keen on helping Lebanon in the past, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In clearer terms, Lebanon cannot, with its current president or its resigned government, headed by Hassan Diab, a man with no credibility, make contact with any foreign country, especially in the Arab world. In the final analysis, Lebanon is in need of someone who can perform this task in their stead.

Therefore, the US administration and the French government concluded they had no other choice but to mediate with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so that it may agree to come to Lebanon’s help. This means helping the ordinary Lebanese find a can of petrol or diesel or a pill.

It is also significant that the US and the French have signalled their intent to support the Lebanese army and security forces. Among all institutions of the Lebanese state only the army is left, after the president of the Republic eliminated every other institution, including the judiciary.

The statement issued by the US embassy noted that “this visit comes after the tripartite meeting on Lebanon of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.”

This meeting was held on June 29 on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Matera, Italy.

During her meetings in Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Shea (together with the French ambassador) planned to discuss the seriousness of the situation in Lebanon and to  stress the importance of humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, as well as increasing support for the army and internal security forces.

In partnership with her French and Saudi counterparts, Ambassador Shea will continue to work on developing the three countries’ diplomatic strategy which focuses on government formation and the imperative need for urgent and fundamental reforms.

Ambassador Shea used this visit to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to helping the people of Lebanon and highlight the contribution by more than $3.7 billion in economic, humanitarian and security assistance since 2016.”

For its part, the French embassy said in a statement, “The French Ambassador to Lebanon, Anne Griot, will travel on Thursday, July 8, 2021, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with the US ambassador to Lebanon, to meet with a number of Saudi officials.

“This visit is an extension of the joint meeting of the (French) Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs and his American counterpart with the Saudi Foreign Minister, which was held in Italy on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.

The French statement recalled that “Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian and Anthony Blinken indicated together in Paris on June 25 that the Lebanese political leaders have so far been unable to give priority to the public interest of Lebanon over their own interests. They also agreed on the need for France and the states to work united together to get Lebanon out of the crisis.”

The statement added, “The ambassador will explain during her meetings that it is urgent for Lebanese officials to form an effective and credible government that works to achieve the necessary reforms in the interest of Lebanon, in accordance with the aspirations of the Lebanese people.”

“She will express with her American counterpart the desire of France and the United States to work with their regional and international partners to put pressure on those responsible for the blockage.”

“It will also stress the need for the French humanitarian aid provided to go directly to the Lebanese people, the Lebanese armed forces and the internal security forces, which France and the United States will continue to support.”

This means that there is absolutely no trust left in the institutions of the Lebanese state  that it will convey this aid to to ordinary citizens!

It was necessary to look at the American and French statements to realise that the international community has lost any hope of saving Lebanon without undertaking an initiative that is out of the ordinary. As serious as it is, the issue is that simple.

The issue relates to the country of President Michel Aoun, a country ruled by “Hezbollah”, i.e. Iran, which sees in Lebanon nothing but one of the many cards in the region with which it wants to blackmail the international community, headed by the United States.

In the end, what can we expect from a country where “Hezbollah” decides who is to be the president of the republic. What we are witnessing today in Lebanon, on every level, is a natural result of Michel Aoun’s arrival at Baabda Palace after Hezbollah closed the Lebanese parliament for two years and five months in order to impose him as president.

It did this by raising a slogan: Either Michel Aoun will be president, or there will be a void at the top position of the Lebanese state.

Over time, it turned out that the void would have been a better option. There is a president whose last concern is the future of Lebanon and the Lebanese. Aoun only cares about the future of his brother-in-law, Gebran Bassil, whom he considers his rightful heir despite US sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which targets foreign officials suspected of corruption. Yes, corruption.

Will America and France bring back Saudi Arabia to Lebanon? This matter is not certain in light of Michel Aoun’s desire to put all possible obstacles in the way of forming a government that would not be at the mercy of his son-in-law’s whims.

What is certain is that the Iranian response to any attempt to salvage what can be salvaged in Lebanon will be more intransigence, not only in Lebanon, but also in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

There is more here than two ambassadors’ visit to Saudi Arabia. There is a battle for the future of the regime in Iran. Tehran’s reaction could be very dangerous.

This was recently demonstrated by its militias blowing up the electricity lines in Iraq and bombing the Ain al-Assad base, which has an American presence inside Iraqi territory.

THE ARAB WEEKLY

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