Riyadh mainly responsible for the economic crisis in Lebanon: researcher

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TEHRAN- A Lebanese political scientist believes that Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy imbalance has led to the current economic crisis in Lebanon.

“Saudi Arabia is the first state responsible for the current financial and economic crisis in Lebanon,” Ali Mourad told The Tehran Times.

“So now that the financial situation has collapsed, Mohammed Bin Salman is trying to exploit it to attack the resistance forces,” he notes.

Mourad says Riyadh is interfering in Lebanese affairs because he asks Lebanon to sack the Minister of Information.

Here is the text of the interview:

What are the causes of the recent escalation between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia?

It is obvious that what Information Minister George Kardahi said about the war against Yemen is not the reason for this Saudi escalation towards Lebanon. The Saudi Crown Prince is trying to achieve what he failed to accomplish in November 2017 when he kidnapped then Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He just wants to plunge Lebanon into chaos, and as the 2017 program turned out to be coordinated with the Zionist Netanyahu government, we cannot rule out an ongoing coordination between Riyadh and Tel Aviv. The reasons for this pressure and what can be described as aggression against Lebanon must be linked to the massacre perpetrated by the number one Saudi agent in Lebanon Samir Geagea two weeks ago. Geagea failed to start an internal sectarian war due to the wisdom of Sayyed Nasrallah. The Saudis ordered him to attack the peaceful demonstration on October 14 so that the Resistance responded and a sectarian clash broke out.

“What Saudi Arabia is doing with Lebanon has no place in international relations and in wise foreign policy.”Why have the Saudis put pressure on Lebanon in recent months? Is Lebanon the weakest actor in West Asia?

Saudi Arabia is the primary state responsible for the current financial and economic crisis in Lebanon. They sent their man Rafiq Hariri in 1990 after the end of the civil war to lead a political bloc in the Lebanese government which ruled for several years and laid the foundation for disastrous financial policies that strangled productive economic sectors and put Lebanon under the bus when Hariri decided that the economy should only rely on foreign loans which depleted the economy with debt. So now, after the financial situation has collapsed, Mohammed Bin Salman is trying to exploit it to attack the resistance forces. Dozens of NGOs with many former March 14 groups are trying to blame Hezbollah and FPM for the financial crisis, which is not true and reflects the real intentions behind the bad Saudi policies in Lebanon. Riyadh has the ambition to achieve a common goal with the Zionist regime which is to weaken the resistance and its popular base. Part of the Saudi offensive policy towards Lebanon may be linked to the ongoing negotiations with Iran in Baghdad. MBS believes that by putting pressure on Lebanon, he can get a dossier to negotiate with Tehran. He wants the axis of resistance to save him in Yemen, which will not happen because he wrongly addresses the issue in the first place.

What is your prediction on the government’s reaction?

In the Mikati government there are figures and forces that cannot be aligned against Saudi Arabia. Some of them have businesses and investments in Saudi Arabia, and even Mikati himself has said from day one of the Saudi campaign that he will step down if Kordahi does not. So far, the French and partly the Americans are pressuring Mikati not to resign. Washington and Paris are both investing in the next elections to be held in March 2022. Both are funding NGOs and local forces aiming to secure a majority in the next parliament to form a government that would work against resistance. On the other hand, Hezbollah and its allies are steadfast in their patriotic stance that refuses to give Saudi Arabia what it wants and Kordahi will not resign. So what the government does depends on what Washington decides. Will that prevent Mikati from resigning and working to ease Saudi pressure or will he abandon his position to please Riyadh? We’ll see.

Do you think Kordahi’s remark about the war in Yemen is some kind of intervention in Saudi affairs?

Of course, Kordahi’s remarks about the Saudi war on Yemen were only the truth. He didn’t even mention Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates and he used diplomatic terms when answering the presenter’s question in his interview. Other Lebanese politicians had already used the same words in their previous speeches on the importance of ending this war. Saudi Arabia wanted an excuse to launch its aggression, and they believed Kardahi’s words would fit in forging that excuse for their campaign. Describing reality and facts like Kordahi can never be considered interference in Saudi affairs. The latter interfere in Lebanese affairs when they ask Lebanon to dismiss Kordahi from the government.

What will be the implications of Saudi Arabia’s brutal reaction to such a remark from a Lebanese minister of the region and the world? Intolerance or an unbalanced approach to foreign policy?

What Saudi Arabia is doing with Lebanon has no place in international relations and in wise foreign policy. MBS has just confirmed to us that he is incapable of handling relations and diplomacy. He will fail again as he failed in all of his battles and wars. If he relies on the Americans, they are not keen to defend him, and if he relies on the Zionists, he will soon be disappointed because they can no longer defend themselves. MBS’s leadership in Saudi Arabia harms not only its neighbors, but primarily Saudi Arabia itself, because the longer its dictatorship lasts, the weaker the Saudi kingdom will be. Do not be fooled by his acrobatic campaigns against his neighbors, because none of them succeed, and the most decisive would be his historic defeat in his war against Yemen.

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