Lebanon govt’s hostile attitude led to aid cut
North Thunder bolsters military links among 20 Muslim states
Saudi Arabia was cutting aid to Lebanon’s army and its internal security forces because of the regime’s increasingly hostile stance toward the Kingdom and other Arab states in the region, which was being caused by Hezbollah’s dominance of the government in Beirut.
This was the decision announced by the Council of Ministers at its weekly session chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in Riyadh on Monday.
The Cabinet stated that Lebanon had received most of the aid provided by the Kingdom to support fellow Arab states, but this had not been reciprocated, according to a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
The Cabinet stated that its support of the Lebanese people did not distinguish between any sects and groups, but was aimed at ensuring the country’s security, stability and sovereignty.
This “honorable stance” was met with hostility by Lebanon at regional and international forums, stemming from Hezbollah having become increasingly dominant in the state apparatus.
One of the examples of this was the Lebanese government’s failure to denounce the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s missions in Iran recently at meetings of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Cabinet stated.
These attitudes were regrettable, unjustified and inconsistent with fraternal relations between the two countries. It ignored the Kingdom’s political and economic support to the country over the years, the Cabinet said.
However, Saudi Arabia would still support the Lebanese people, from whichever sect they originate. The Cabinet thanked Prime Minister Tammam and other Lebanese officials for voicing support for the Kingdom.
The Cabinet condemned the terrorist attacks in Ankara, Turkey, and affirmed the Kingdom’s rejection of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
On the local front, the Cabinet said that the Middle East’s largest ever war games, the Northern Thunder exercises taking place until March 10, will boost military cooperation between the 20 Muslim nations taking part.
The exercises, which began on Feb. 14, involve more than 150,000 troops from the Gulf Arab nations, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal.
“The Council of Ministers … expressed the hope that these exercises achieve what was defined as their goals in exchanging expertise and raising the level of military coordination.”
The statement also praised “the levels of preparedness and administrative and supply capabilities” shown by the nations participating in Northern Thunder exercises.
In terms of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Cabinet welcomed the statement issued by the 3rd extraordinary meeting of the GCC information ministers to launch a joint media strategy on its goals in Yemen.
The ministers welcomed the condemnation of the indiscriminate attacks by Houthi militia and forces loyal to deposed president Ali Abdullah Salih on the Kingdom’s southern border areas with Yemen that have targeted the civilian population and obstructed humanitarian aid.
The Cabinet further welcomed the opening of the Armed Forces Exhibition for Diversification, which formed part of the Saudi government’s plan to manufacture military systems locally.
Later, the Cabinet announced several decisions including a memorandum of cooperation between the Saudi Presidency of Youth Welfare and Japanese Ministry of Culture, Sports, Sciences and Technology.
It further approved the Kingdom’s subscription of 19,483 shares to increase the capital of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector with an amount of $194.83 million.
The Cabinet endorsed a general agreement for cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the governments of Benin and Gambia, and a scientific and educational cooperation memorandum with Romania.
It further approved the appointment of Badr bin Hamoud Al-Badr, representing the private sector, as a member in the board of directors of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation.
It also authorized the Ministry of Agriculture to encourage investment in the poultry industry, and the formation of committees across the country to set up projects in the sector.