| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

Lebanon’s ties with Saudi Arabia at a deadlock, after pomegranate Captagon scandal

In the context of Lebanon’s ties with Saudi Arabia, there is an attempt to absorb the repercussions of the pomegranate shipment which was entered the market stuffed with Captagon. Sources revealed that importers have been asked to halt the import of Lebanese products, not only the agricultural crops. Although the decision has not been officially announced but importers were asked to sign on the decision, and some traders were informed by this decision.

The parliamentary and ministerial alerts in Lebanon were put on hold. Minister Zeina Akar hosted a major meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, which was attended by the Ministers of Interior, Agriculture, Industry, and Finance, as well as a number of deputies. Due to the current incapacity to provide scanners, the most notable decisions made are to constrain any export operations from Lebanon at Beirut Port. It was decided to install a scanner at the Port the sooner possible. Information reported that the suggested options include transferring the scanner located in Tripoli after ensuring that it is fit for use, as well as using the broken down scanner located at Rafik Hariri Airport, noting that Akar informed the attendees that France has voiced its intention to offer Lebanon a used but developed scanner of a high quality.

The question arises, though, as to who will be in charge of the scanner. Because although the Saudi team and any country to which we export products do not trust local officials and the Lebanese local administration, it was the most effective solution to appoint a private organization to handle the scanner. In this regard, sources revealed that the company that will purchase the scanner belongs to the nephew of the President of the Republic’s Adviser, Salim Jreissaty. In fact, it’s worth noting that during negotiations in regard with 2020’s budget, a note was made that the President’s Adviser shall reconsider his remarks in this respect.

Simultaneously, sources reported the establishment of a communication link between the Saudi Security Authorities and the Lebanese Army’s Intelligence. Information was exchanged about the packaging and export of narcotic pills from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia, and it was learned that the Army informed the Saudi security authorities with all the details it has about the raided factories. Information stated that the Army Commander’s visit to the Saudi Embassy today came in this context, and that collaboration would increase, given the security cooperation with Syrian security agencies that will be added.

Saudi sources responded to the security warning and the new decisions by noting that the message is still being absorbed, especially because everything that has happened so far has been decisions that have not yet translated into deeds.

  • Sawt Beirut International