| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

Riyadh does not use Lebanon as a bargaining chip for negotiations

According to French diplomatic sources, at a time when France launched intensive contacts with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, paving the way for a “road map” to resolve the situation between Lebanon and the Gulf states, based on Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s request for French mediation, diplomatic circles with extensive knowledge of the relations file ceased. The Lebanese-Gulf Accord when leaders of the Shiite pair discussed the Kingdom’s and the last Gulf’s position on Lebanon, they intended to use it as a negotiating tool between these parties and Iran. The sources reject to link the two situations since, first, this negotiation was constructive, according to Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, but it did not result in any progress.

Second, in its negotiations with Iran, Riyadh believes that Lebanon does not interest it at all. Lebanon has so far been regarded as a bargaining chip in Tehran’s hand. Riyadh will not damage its position by bringing its file to the negotiating table with Tehran, as it avoids making it one of its concession cards in the talks. As a result, the conversation with Iran is centered on how to ensure stability in the Gulf region, beginning with the Yemen scenario. And if this is available, the Gulf will have no objections to the negotiations that the US is currently doing with Iran. Yemen’s status with relation to the Gulf is comparable to that of Lebanon. As a result, the sources affirm that the Gulf is aiming to lay the losing cards aside in discussions on the grounds that Lebanon has “lost militarily,” and to focus on and adhere to the elements of power.

Hence, the situation of Yemen and Iraq in terms of negotiability is easier than the Lebanese case, which is the focus of Gulf pressure to correct its course and restore its sovereignty through the positions that officials in it must take.

The Kingdom is well aware that Lebanon basically did not help itself, as a large part of what it is now, is caused by strategic mistakes accumulated since 2005, coalition governments and compromises over the presidents of the republic.

According to the sources, in contrast to the Saudi viewpoint, Iran uses Lebanon as a negotiating card in the context of its concentration on expanding economic and military dominance in the Middle East against Washington, particularly in Lebanon and the countries in which it has significant influence. It is Iran that is trying to impose its conditions on the Vienna negotiating table by putting pressure on Lebanon politically, security and economically. In the political field, Iran opposes the international-Arab understanding that it is no longer acceptable to have an armed militia that equals the state in its presence and authority and overcomes it in the fateful decisions inside the country, according to the sources, with the attendant threats to take to the street. Economically, the Lebanese officials, as well as the major countries interested in the Lebanese issue, are fully aware that Iran cannot replace the Gulf states in supporting Lebanon, nor can the European countries and the United States provide support to it. They believe that because Iran is unable to provide economic and living support to the Iranian people as a result of its economic situation and sanctions, it cannot help the Lebanese community by offering gasoline and power.

According to the sources, if Lebanon does not take the necessary decision to reach an agreement with the Gulf, a broader Gulf tension will emerge, which may have ramifications for the government, the parliamentary elections, and the country in general.

  • Sawt Beirut International