Beirut- The acting Minister of Justice, Alice Chabtini, urged Saudi Arabia on Monday to revoke the suspension of aid to the Lebanese army, while the government discussed, amidst divisions, the implications of the tension with Riyadh.
Chabtini, who took office temporarily on Sunday after the resignation of Ashraf Rifi, stressed the commitment to neutrality by Lebanon as part, he said, of its membership in the Arab community, and being a founder and permanent member of the Arab League.
Chabtini’s call coincided with a meeting of the cabinet of Prime Minister Tammam Salam to address current issues as well as of national impact, particularly the call from several members of the executive to take a firm stance to prevent deterioration of ties with Riyadh.
Rifi and other Lebanese ministers affiliated with the ’March 14th’ bloc, led by former prime minister and close ally of the Saudi kingdom Saad Hariri, are accusing the Hezbollah of acting as a ’de facto’ power and imposing the projection of the cabinet.
Riyadh announced on Friday the cancellation of three billion-dollar aid to the military institution on the grounds that Lebanon adopted ’hostile diplomatic positions’ by abstaining to condemn the assault on the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran, in early January.
The interior minister, Nuhad Mashnouq, who requested the extraordinary government session to discuss the country’s foreign policy, said that they need to preserve their relations with the Arab world and the interests of the Lebanese expatriates, who are the key support of the Lebanese economy, said he, criticizing the alleged dominance of Hezbollah in the cabinet and the subsequent submission to Iran’s influence.
Source: Prensa Latina, 22 Feb 2016