ASIA/LEBANON - Lebanese President Aoun, Maronite Christian, mends relations with Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 11 January 2017 international politics   middle east

Riyadh (Agenzia Fides) - The President of Lebanon Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, began his first trip in the Arabian Peninsula with the first result of mending relations with Saudi Arabia, which last year had experienced moments of high tension, to the point of suspending military aid, amounting to $3 billion, that the Saudi government had previously destined for the Lebanese armed forces. On Tuesday 10 January, the interview which took place in Ryiad between President Aoun and Saudi King Salman, according to many analysts could open a new page in the relations between the two Countries, contributing to the stabilization of the Middle Eastern area. According to statements by a member of the Lebanese delegation, reported by the national press, the issue of the blockade of the Saudis funding to Lebanon in the military field was also touched, and there will soon be talks between officials of the two parties in charge of operating the transfer of funds.
The new perspective that opens to the relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia is an effect of the new Lebanese political season, inaugurated by the election for the office of President of General Aoun, after more than two and a half years of presidential vacatio, and strenghtened after the settlement of the new government in December, led by Sunni leader Saad Hariri.
Last year, Saudi Arabia had frozen funding to Lebanon to express its distrust towards the influential role played by the pro-Iranian Shiite movement Hezbollah on the Lebanese political scene. In recent years, Aoun and his party, the Free Patriotic Movement, have been the main political partners allied with Hezbollah. The re-mending with Saudi Arabia confirms that the line pursued by President Aoun is to also favor at a regional level - dominated by the contrast between the same Arabia and Iran - the compromise and settlement between opposed forces, so that the different geopolitical actors come to terms, giving up a part of its claims. The different partners of Lebanon - Aoun himself pointed out during his visit to Ryiad - have decided to contribute to the maintenance and development of the Country of cedars, because they realized that the strengthening of Lebanon promotes "security and stability for all". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 11/01/2017)