Will Qardahi spoil 8 decades of relations between Riyadh and Beirut? These are the most prominent stations

Between the ups and downs of the relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Lebanese Republic, since before the independence of Lebanon until the crisis of the recent statements of Minister of Information George Kordahi regarding the Yemen war.

Over the course of more than 80 years of the history between the two countries, the Kingdom was strongly present in all the fateful stations that Lebanon went through, especially in the period extending from the end of the sixties until after the end of the civil war in what was called the stage of reconstruction, passing through the base station, which is an agreement Taif in 1989.

Pre-independence relations

– Before the independence of Lebanon, the founding King Abdul Aziz Al Saud (1932-1953) sought the assistance of Lebanese expertise, and he sought the assistance of experts and consultants who possess thought, opinion and good management.

Some of these reached advanced positions in the royal court, and worked as ambassadors in important countries, and the Lebanese Fouad Hamza was among those advisors who spent decades of Saudi political work.

– The king at that time also hired the Lebanese engineer, Maurice Gemayel, in order to obtain his expertise in the field of water, as the Arabian Peninsula suffers from the scarcity of rain and its loss of rivers and springs, and he referred to the establishment of dams and artificial lakes to provide rainwater in the winter season.

– The Lebanese thinker and writer Amin Al-Rihani had many and many visits to Saudi Arabia. He narrated and wrote a lot about King Abdulaziz and his reign.

May 1943: King Abdulaziz Al Saud (1932-1953) sent a letter to the head of the Islamic bloc in Lebanon, Muhammad Jamil Beyhem, affirming the Kingdom’s support for Lebanon’s independence from Western colonialism.

At that time, the Lebanese were divided into two groups, the first from the Muslim community, which was looking forward to achieving complete independence and getting rid of colonialism, and the other from the Christian community, and its goal was also independence, but under French protection.

– November 22, 1943: Lebanon gained its independence after elections in which one of the parties was Lebanese pro-France and in favor of isolating their country from the Arab countries, headed by Emile Eddé.

– The second party in those elections was the Constitutional Bloc, headed by Sheikh Beshara Al-Khoury, and it was loyal to the British and supportive of cooperation between Arab countries, and it won in the elections.

– November 1943: When a crisis erupted between the Lebanese government and the French mandate, the Kingdom demanded the release of President Bechara El Khoury, Prime Minister Riad El Solh, and the detained ministers and parliamentarians.

1952: Lebanese President Camille Chamoun inaugurated the stage of close official cooperation between the Lebanese state and the Kingdom, when he visited the founding King, Abdulaziz Al Saud, at the head of a high-level delegation.

1976: Saudi Arabia’s efforts focused on stopping the “two-year war” through the Riyadh summit, which resulted in the formation of the Arab Deterrence Forces, to which Saudi Arabia contributed money and men.

The two-year war is a term given to the first phase of the Lebanese civil war between the armed Lebanese National Movement and the Palestinian fighters on the one hand, and the Lebanese right-wing militants, who were later backed by the Syrians, on the other hand, and it lasted between April 13, 1975 and October 21, 1976.

1978: The Kingdom sponsored the Beiteddine Conference to contain the explosive situation at that time between the Christian forces and Syria in Lebanon.

1979: Saudi Arabia participated in the Tunis Summit, in order to implement the decisions of the Beiteddine Conference, foremost of which is the rebuilding of the Lebanese army on national bases, the extension of state authority over the border region in southern Lebanon, and the achievement of reconciliation among the Lebanese.

April 1981: The Zahle crisis between the “Lebanese Forces” led by Bashir Gemayel, and the Syrian forces was a new test for Saudi diplomacy, and the missile crisis that followed between Syria and Israel.

– The legitimate Kingdom of Lebanon supported and supported it and insisted on a cease-fire and an end to the siege of the city of Zahle by the Syrian forces, as a prelude to achieving Lebanese reconciliation. Indeed, the siege stopped, and the “Lebanese Forces” left with Saudi escorts.

A picture from the Taif Agreement in 1989 (communication sites)

From the “Fez Initiative” to the “Taif Agreement”

August 1981: Crown Prince Fahd bin Abdulaziz launched an initiative for peace in the Middle East, ending with a solution to the Lebanese crisis.

1982: The initiative itself was transformed into the “Fez Initiative” at the Arab Summit that was held in Morocco, after it was recently adopted by the Arab countries.

– The initiative is based on the principle of “land for peace” and the implementation of UN Resolution 242, but the Israeli response rejecting the initiative came by invading Lebanon to uproot the Palestine Liberation Organization and installing a loyal government in Lebanon that ratifies a peace treaty with Israel.

– After the Israeli invasion, Saudi diplomacy worked on two lines: securing a safe withdrawal line for the besieged Palestinian fighters in Beirut to put an end to the Israeli military operations, and pragmatically dealing with the new realities by hosting the leader of the “Lebanese Forces” Bashir Gemayel, the only presidential candidate, in order to find a solution to the existence Palestinian military and civilian, and confinement to the camps.

– September 14, 1982: After the assassination of President Bashir Gemayel, Riyadh continued its mediation efforts between the Lebanese parties and supported the election of his brother, President Amin Gemayel.

May 17, 1983: The Kingdom rejected the agreement between Lebanon and Israel, with its negative repercussions on the relations between the parties to the crisis, and Damascus’ rejection of it.

– Rafic Hariri, the Kingdom’s envoy at the time, made continuous efforts to end the civil war, despite the complexity of the lines of the crisis, and the outbreak of fierce battles between the Lebanese army on the one hand, and the forces of the National Movement and the Amal Movement in Beirut and the Mountain on the other.

– Between September 30 and October 22, 1989: The Kingdom succeeded in gathering the Lebanese deputies in the city of Taif, where it sponsored the agreement that bore the city’s name.

– The agreement was the culmination of a Saudi-Syrian agreement on Lebanon, to be followed by Rafik Hariri as prime minister in the country, and he was one of the closest politicians to Saudi Arabia and has always been considered a Saudi as much as he was a Lebanese.

– Between 1989 and 2005: the Kingdom’s contributions increased politically and financially, in order to survey the effects of the war and reconstruct what was destroyed, especially during the era of the governments of Rafik Hariri, who had close relations with the leaders of the Kingdom, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz (1982-2005), and the Guardian His reign is Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

– The Kingdom provided aid and financial deposits to support Lebanon’s treasury, in the face of repeated Israeli attacks, to cover the accumulated debt burdens, and to support the price of the Lebanese pound against the dollar through the Central Bank.

February 2005: The assassination of Rafik Hariri represented a major turning point in the policies of the Kingdom, which considered the incident a target for it as well as an attack on Lebanon’s stability and prosperity.

2010: The volume of Saudi investments in Lebanon amounted to 16 billion riyals, representing about 40% of Arab investments, while the volume of trade exchanges between the two countries amounted to about 2.790 billion riyals.

Lebanon ranks 40th among the countries to which the Kingdom exports goods, while it ranks 46th in the countries from which the Kingdom imports.

– Large numbers of Lebanese workers reside in the Kingdom, exceeding 300 thousand people, which is the largest Arab community investing in the Kingdom, and the Lebanese investors in it exceed 600 investors, most of whose investments are concentrated in contracting, construction, decoration, and some industries.

Crisis of 2017… Hariri’s resignation

November 4, 2017: Saad Hariri submitted his resignation from his post in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia, citing fears of assassination and accusing Iran and Hezbollah of threatening the security of the region.

– On that day, the Lebanese authorities launched an emergency diplomatic campaign to “liberate” Hariri, but despite that they did not officially speak any word against Saudi Arabia.

– Lebanese President Michel Aoun informed the foreign ambassadors that Hariri was “kidnapped”, and indicated that “nothing justifies the non-return of Prime Minister Saad Hariri after 12 days, and accordingly we consider him detained and arrested.”

– Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah questioned the validity of the resignation and accused the Saudi government of detaining Hariri and forcing him to resign.

– Several Lebanese commentators commented on the published photos of Hariri in Saudi Arabia as indicating that he is under house arrest.

– November 6, 2017: The Saudi Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs, Thamer Al-Sabhan, announced that Saudi Arabia: “will treat the government of Lebanon as a government declaring war because of the Hezbollah militia.”

– November 9, 2017: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait called on their citizens to leave Lebanon and not to travel to it.

November 18, 2017: Hariri arrived in the French capital, Paris, with his wife, after leaving two of his sons in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. He was received at the airport only by Ambassador Rami Adwan, without the presence of any French official, and the car that took him did not carry From the airport any Lebanese or French flags.

November 22, 2017: Hariri returned to Beirut to participate in the Independence Day celebration, and after he met the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, he announced that he would wait to submit his resignation, based on the wish of the President of the Republic.

– The political relationship between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia has cooled, against the backdrop of the growing role of Hezbollah, which Riyadh considers a “terrorist” organization that implements the policy of Iran, its most prominent regional opponent.

– Against the backdrop of the growing role of Hezbollah, the most prominent military and political force backed by Tehran, Riyadh blamed Lebanese officials, especially its allies, especially former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, for not confronting this role.

April 2021: Saudi Arabia suspended the import of fruits and vegetables from Lebanon, or allowed their passage on its lands, after customs seized more than 5.3 million Captagon pills hidden in a shipment of pomegranates.

Charbel Wahba’s statements

– May 18, 2021: Statements by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Lebanese caretaker government, Charbel Wahba, during an interview on Al-Hurra TV, angered the Gulf countries.

Wahba said, “The countries of love, friendship and brotherhood, they brought us the Islamic State and planted it in the Nineveh Plains, Anbar and Palmyra,” referring to the lands that the organization controlled in Syria and Iraq.

– When asked if he meant by “those countries” the Gulf states, Wahba said that he did not want to mention names. But in response to a question about whether the Gulf states had funded the Islamic movement, he said: “Who funded them, then, me?”

– Before the end of the interview, the Lebanese minister left the studio, objecting to the Saudi guest who participated with him in the episode, the political analyst, Salman Al-Ansari, who attacked the President of the Lebanese Republic, Michel Aoun, to which Wahba replied, “I am in Lebanon and one of the Bedouin people insults me.”

– For its part, the Presidency of the Lebanese Republic denounced what was issued by Wahba, stressing that he expressed his personal opinion and did not reflect the position of the state and President Aoun.

– Lebanese Prime Minister-designate (at the time) Saad Hariri, considered the minister’s words “not related to diplomatic work in any way, and it constitutes a round of absurdity and recklessness with the foreign policies adopted by the ministers of the Covenant.”

Despite Wahba’s apology, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Lebanese ambassador to the Kingdom to protest.

October 29, 2021: The Saudi authorities stated that Hezbollah’s control of the state made Lebanon an arena and a starting point for implementing state projects that do not wish the best for Lebanon and its people.

Lebanon’s predicament following the speech of George Kordahi

October 26, 2021: A recorded interview was published by the Lebanese Minister of Information, George Kordahi, before assuming his ministerial position, describing the war in Yemen as absurd.

– Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati describes Qardahi’s words as unacceptable.

October 27, 2021: Qardahi confirms that his positions are personal opinions that do not bind the government, rejecting the accusation that he is anti-Saudi.

– October 28, 2021: Lebanese President Michel Aoun says that Qardahi’s statements were made before his appointment as a minister and do not reflect Lebanon’s viewpoint.

– Lebanese Hezbollah denounces what it described as the campaign led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE against Qardahi and confirms its rejection of his dismissal or resignation.

– The Future Movement criticizes Hezbollah’s statement defending Qardahi, and condemns what it described as the party’s attack on Arab countries and endangering Lebanon’s interests.

October 29, 2021: Saudi Arabia summons its ambassador to Lebanon for consultations, gives the Lebanese ambassador 48 hours to leave, and stops Lebanese imports to it and those transiting its territory.

Najib Mikati expresses his regret for Saudi Arabia’s decision, stressing the continuation of work to fix the dispute.

– Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bouhabib announces the establishment of a ministerial cell, in coordination with the presidents of the republic and the government, whose mission is to overcome the dispute with Saudi Arabia.

– Bahrain asks the Lebanese ambassador in Manama to leave within 48 hours and describes Qardahi’s statements as offensive.

– Saad Hariri holds Hezbollah and Michel Aoun responsible for what happened and says that Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states will not be a breaker of Iranian policies.

October 30, 2021: Kuwait recalls its ambassador to Beirut and asks the Lebanese ambassador to leave.

The United Arab Emirates withdraws its diplomats from its embassy in Beirut.

– Qatar describes Qardahi’s statements as irresponsible, expresses strong dissatisfaction, and calls on the Lebanese government to take the necessary measures to calm the situation.

The crisis cell formed by the Lebanese government affirms the concern for the relationship with the Gulf countries and Lebanon’s desire to address the repercussions of the crisis with Saudi Arabia.

– Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib says that contacts have been made with the Americans to help resolve the crisis with Saudi Arabia, and confirms that international bodies want the government to continue.

– Lebanese President Michel Aoun affirms his keenness to establish the best relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and to institutionalize these relations.

October 31, 2021: Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai calls on the presidents of the republic and the government to take decisive steps to defuse the explosion of Lebanese-Gulf relations.

– November 1, 2021: Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati says that the Emir of the State of Qatar will send the Qatari Foreign Minister to Beirut to discuss dealing with the Lebanese-Gulf crisis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *