ASIA/LEBANON - Patriarch Raï thanks Saudi Arabia and again calls for an "international solution" to the Lebanese crisis

Monday, 3 May 2021 middle east   oriental churches   un   drugs   geopolitics  

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - A "thank you" to Saudi Arabia for allowing at least the Lebanese trucks blocked at the border to enter its territory and unload their goods, before triggering the embargo imposed by Riyadh on imports of Lebanese agricultural products. And at the same time, a new appeal to entrust an international conference sponsored by the UN with the solution of the systemic crisis that has plagued the Country of Cedars for a long time, with increasingly serious consequences on the condition of the entire population. These are the two most relevant passages that the Maronite Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï wanted to dedicate to Lebanese current events, during the homily delivered during the Eucharistic celebration on Sunday 2 May, dedicated to Our Lady of Lebanon. "We thank the leaders of Saudi Arabia who have allowed the entry of Lebanese trucks into their territory", said the Patriarch, among other things, expressing the hope that the leaders of the Saudi monarchy will soon retrace their steps, withdrawing the recent provision banning the entry into Arabia of agri-food products from Lebanon. The restrictive measure, as reported by Agenzia Fides (see Fides, 26/4/2021), was ordered following the operation of the Saudi security forces that foiled a sensational attempt to import into the Kingdom in the port of Jeddah 5,3 millions of Captagon pills (synthetic drug) in crates from Lebanon that were supposed to contain pomegranates. The blockade of imports - the Saudi authorities had warned - will remain in force until Lebanon provides "sufficient and reliable guarantees" to put an end to what Riyadh has described as "systematic smuggling operations against the Kingdom". The Saudi provisions - the Patriarch commented in his homily - are having negative repercussions on the already disastrous Lebanese economy. The Primate of the Maronite Church wanted to underline that the Lebanese police bodies have already started operations aimed at dismantling the drug trafficking networks that produce and sell drugs in the Middle East and that use Lebanon as an essential center, perpetuating their trafficking regardless of between the States and not even the territorial divisions related to situations of conflict. In the course of his homily, Cardinal Raï reiterated the reasons that led him to reiterate several times the appeal to convene an international conference sponsored by the UN, in order to give an international anchor to the exercise of authentic "Lebanese neutrality" regarding the conflicts and confrontations between the axes of force that have been tearing apart the Middle East for decades. Recent political news - the Patriarch reiterated - confirms that Lebanon will not be able to recover from the crisis it has plunged into unless an "International Conference is convened to declare its neutrality. Outside this path", the Lebanese Cardinal added, "Lebanon will go from one crisis to another, from one war to another and from one failure to another, and we will give the impression of being a people that does not know how to govern itself". The solution to Lebanon's problems - the Patriarch remarked - cannot even be identified with overcoming the political stalemate that has prevented the Prime Minister in charge, the Sunni Saad Hariri, from forming a new government since last October. "It is true" Cardinal Raï noted "that we need a government, but we must resolve issues and conflicts that prevent Lebanon from being a normal country".
Among the emergencies to be addressed without hesitation to avoid the dissolution of Lebanon, Patriarch Raï also recalled the need to bring back the Syrian refugees currently displaced in Lebanese territories, and to address the emergency once and for all from the Palestinian refugee camps present in Lebanon for decades. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 3/5/2021)