The Persian-language Basirat website has, in an article, weighed in on Saudi
Arabia's interference in Lebanon. The full text of the analytical piece follows.
There have been reports in recent days regarding Saudi Arabia’s interference in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections scheduled for May, 2018. This comes as Riyadh has already meddled in Lebanon’s internal affairs by allegedly forcing former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign. Generally speaking, after the two movements of March 8 and March 14 were formed in Lebanon, Riyadh has put on its agenda a plan to keep supporting the March 14 movement. In this regard, the Saudi are banking on pawns such as Samir Geagea, the executive chairman of the Lebanese Forces party, and one of the most notorious terrorists in the country. Now, Saudi Arabia is interfering in Lebanon’s domestic affairs once again. Riyadh seeks to manage the election climate in Lebanon in order to set the stage for its own political pawns to emerge victorious in that political arena. A few points need to be taken into account in this regard:
1. Experts on Lebanon issues have, in recent days, turned the spotlight on New Saudi Ambassador to Beirut Walid al-Yaacoub. During the short time he has been present in Beirut, the top Saudi diplomat has had numerous meetings with authorities of the March 14 movement and has made every effort to help it emerge victorious in the upcoming election. With the parliamentary vote four months away, the Saudi ambassador has intensified his meddlesome approach in Lebanon as his predecessors would do. In this regard, an informed source in Beirut told Basirat that Saudi ambassadors’ interference in Lebanon is not limited to al-Yaacoub, and that even before him, other Saudi ambassadors would conduct activities in favor of the March 14 movement. The activities included financial and political support, giving promises to leaders of the March 14 movement, and trying to secure popular vote in favor of the movement. It is lost on no one that it is Riyadh that meets a great part of the costs of the movement’s election campaign. Accordingly, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil made comments which immediately made headlines across the country. In his remarks, he indirectly warned Riyadh against meddling in Lebanon’s affairs. He recommended diplomats in Beirut not overstep the limit of their powers and not do activities beyond their authority.
2. The Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily recently reported that a Saudi delegation would travel to Beirut to meet Saad Hariri. The team from the Saudi King’s Office is due in the Lebanese capital in the near future to examine the situation in the four months left until Lebanon’s parliamentary vote. It goes without saying that Riyadh has invested heavily in efforts to secure victory in the election. It is worth mentioning that the Saudi delegation is not scheduled to sit down with Lebanese President Michel Aoun or Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. Still, the Saudi delegation will meet Hariri (as one of the leaders of the March 14 movement) in order to mobilize all forces and resources of the movement. In other words, Saudi Arabia is sending a delegation to Beirut to further unify the March 14 movement in the forthcoming parliamentary election.
3. Incontrovertibly, given the growing Saudi interference in Lebanon’s domestic equations, we will see the March 8 movement and Hezbollah adopt a firm stance against Saudi Arabia. The defeat of Riyadh’s pawns in Syria, especially their defeat in Arsal, which came about due to the strong presence of Hezbollah forces, was a heavy blow to the Al Saud rulers. Under such circumstances, Riyadh seeks to take advantage of the political arena to compensate, at least partly, for its failure on the military front. However, experience shows that Riyadh, at last, is doomed to paying exorbitant costs in that regard and savour the taste of another defeat by the resistance front. In other words, even if the Saudi-led March 14 movement emerges victorious in the parliamentary election, the resistance front will keep pushing full-steam ahead with its activities in the political arena of Lebanon and the region.
SOURCE: Basirat Persian Website