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02 March 2024

Saudi halts $4bn arms deals with Lebanon

By Wam

Saudi Arabia announced on Friday it is halting deals worth $4 billion aimed at equipping and supporting Lebanese security forces.
One deal involves Saudi Arabia paying $3 billion to buy French arms for the Lebanese military. The other involves a $1 billion support deal for the Lebanese police.
The Saudi announcement, made by an official source via the state-run Saudi Press Agency, comes after Lebanon declined to support resolutions against Iran during two meetings of Arab and Muslim foreign ministers at the League of Arab States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
The official said the terrorist Iran-backed Hezbollah "hijacked the will of the state in Lebanon" and "is perpetrating terrorism against Saudi Arabia, the Arab Nation and the Muslim Nation."
Saudi Arabia cited Lebanon's siding with Iran amid the Kingdom's diplomatic spat with Iran, which were sparked by the mob attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad in early January, prompting Riyadh to severe its diplomatic relations with Tehran.
Saudi Arabia said it halted the deals because of recent "regrettable" Lebanese positions "which are not in line with the brotherly relations between the two countries and ignore the Kingdom's historic support for Lebanon during its political and economic crises."
The announcement also said Saudi Arabia supported Lebanon "without any discrimination between Lebanese sects or segments."
Based on all these facts and in light of these positions (taken by Lebanon), the Kingdom has made a comprehensive review of its relations with the Lebanese Republic to protect Saudi interests, the Saudi announcement said.
Saudi Arabia's relations with Iran, which supports Hezbollah and the embattled head of the Syrian regime Bashar Assad, took a turn for the worse at the start of the year with the mob attacks on the two Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran following the Kingdom's execution of terrorism convicts including persons closely linked with Iran.
Although the Lebanese army, which historically has been equipped by the United States and France, is generally seen as a unifying force in the country and drawing its ranks from all of Lebanon's sects, it is widely viewed as being much weaker than the Hezbollah militant group.