It included 12 items to rebuild confidence with the Gulf states.. How will Lebanon deal with the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister’s proposals?

Beirut- The visit of Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah left mixed echoes in Beirut, between those who considered it an important entry point for building Lebanese-Gulf relations, and those who found messages in it that raise controversial issues in Lebanon, specifically about Hezbollah’s influence.

Analysts believe that the terms of the morning paper, which he handed to the Lebanese official parties, are awaiting a response, coinciding with the approaching consultative meeting of the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers in Kuwait at the end of January.

In a visit that lasted on Saturday and Sunday, Sheikh Al-Sabah met with a number of Lebanese officials. The visit gained importance from being the first by a high-ranking Gulf official since the crisis between Lebanon and Gulf countries, against the background of statements by the resigned Lebanese Minister of Information, George Qardahi, in October 2021, in which he described the Yemen war as absurd, and as a result of which Gulf countries withdrew their diplomatic staff from Lebanon.

The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister called on the Lebanese parties to adhere to the resolutions of international legitimacy and those of the Arab League (Reuters)

What did the morning message to Lebanon include?

The Presidency of the Republic described Al-Sabah’s visit as an “initiative to rebuild confidence,” and the latter affirmed its refusal to turn Lebanon into a platform for launching verbal aggression against the Gulf states, calling on the Lebanese parties to adhere to the resolutions of international legitimacy and those of the League of Arab States.

Here, the writer and political analyst Rosana Boumansef points out that the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister’s expression of a Gulf Arab and international position reveals the contents of his message, and based on its data on the following matters:

  • That Lebanon distance itself from the affairs of the region, and not be a source of destabilizing the security of the Arab and Gulf countries.
  • To abide by the Taif Agreement sponsored by Riyadh in 1989.
  • That Lebanon control its land, sea and air borders and all illegal crossings, and eliminate drug export operations.
  • That the Lebanese government implement all the reforms required of it to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund.
  • The most important thing – in her opinion – is for Lebanon to abide by international legitimacy and implement Security Council resolutions, such as “1701”, “1680” and “1559”, specifically the latter, which calls for the dissolution of militias and armed organizations, and the consequent consequent confinement of weapons to the Lebanese army, and discussion of the defense strategy Lebanon on the southern front.

For his part, writer and political analyst Johnny Mounir indicates that the priority in the visit of the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister is currently given to 3 things, given the problematic differences over international resolutions, namely: stopping drug smuggling, stopping Hezbollah’s interference in the Yemeni war and supporting the Houthis, and negotiating with the International Monetary Fund. .

However, writer and political analyst Wassim Bazzi (close to Hezbollah) finds it natural that the official Lebanese position deals with the logic of extending a hand to the Kuwaiti minister’s visit, “but Hezbollah may read some of its clauses with the logic of conditions that cannot be accepted.”

Bazzi considers that there is no problem for Hezbollah to talk about the relevant international resolutions, because the ministerial statements deal with them.

Regarding Resolution 1559, it is effective for Hezbollah – according to Bazzi – “because the civil war militias were dissolved and the Syrian army withdrew, and the resistance weapon (for Hezbollah) derives its legitimacy from successive ministerial statements, in clear or indirect language.”

He said that “Hezbollah’s weapon is an explosive title in Lebanon, politically and sectarianly, and is directly related to the conflict with Israel and its continuous aggression against Lebanon and its wealth.”

What are the expectations regarding the response of the Lebanese authorities to Al-Sabah’s proposals regarding the problematic international resolutions at home?

Before the cabinet meeting, Ali Darwish, a member of the Parliamentary Center bloc (headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati), considers that it will take seriously and positively the visit of Minister Al-Sabah, recalling that the statement governing the work of the Mikati government stipulates a policy of disassociation and building the best relations with the Arab brothers.

The deputy told Al Jazeera Net that the Mikati government does not view Al-Sabah’s message as conditions as much as it is ideas and a road map to restore cohesion with the Gulf, and “will seek positive practical steps towards the visit, which gave impetus to the interior and formed support for the government.”

Boumansef pointed out that Al-Sabah’s visit is a Gulf initiative to open the doors to Lebanon, and to refute the pretexts linking the Lebanese collapse and its isolation from the Gulf and the Arabs.

The analyst agrees with Johnny Mounir that the visit intersects with the terms of the French-Saudi initiative that was issued in a joint statement during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the Gulf in December 2021, and an integrated step comes after the joint Gulf statements towards Lebanon, during the tour of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. in the Gulf countries.

Boumansef told Al Jazeera Net that the initiative after the diplomatic crisis requires dealing with it differently, after the Gulf – according to it – expressed its lack of intention to leave Lebanon alone, and Iran’s influence in the region.

She added that the Gulf and Arab role is an urgent need for Lebanon, especially with the direction of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri not to participate in the elections next May, and what could leave a great void in the internal Sunni arena and a confusion of election papers and results.

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah visits BeirutMichel Aoun praised the “initiative to rebuild confidence” presented by Minister Al-Sabah (Reuters)

Estimates after the visit

While attention is focused on the reverberations of the move internally after the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister concluded his visit, Johnny Mounir believes that the measure of the repercussions of the visit is Hezbollah’s position on it, because he will view it as a message directed against it, recalling that all Lebanese attempts since 2005 have failed to reach understandings that satisfy the Arab and international communities about Hezbollah’s influence, weapons, and defense strategy.

And it is expected – via Al Jazeera Net – that the party will respond to it or passive silence as well, unless it compares it to the scale of regional transformations, specifically at the level of the results of the Vienna negotiations, that may push it to change its policy of dealing with the Gulf.

He added that official Lebanon is unable to do anything about the Gulf accusations of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Yemen war.

Rosana Boumonsef rules out the achievement of advanced steps before the parliamentary elections and the end of President Michel Aoun’s term in October 2022, “because all the proposed items require a serious internal discussion between the Lebanese forces that are currently preoccupied with their electoral calculations.”

She explained that Hezbollah has a different agenda, internally and regionally, that may hinder the openness between Lebanon and the Gulf, considering that “its insistence on supporting the Houthis, morally and practically, constitutes a great harm to Lebanon.”

Wassim Bazzi expects Hezbollah to leave the Lebanese official side to interact with the content of the visit, without taking it for the foreseeable future as an escalating occasion for controversy.

What about ambassadors?

Munir finds that the return of the Gulf ambassadors to Lebanon after the visit, even if it constitutes a preliminary turning point in relations, requires a step from Lebanon, after it became clear that Qardahi’s resignation was insufficient.

Boumansef reports that the withdrawal of ambassadors and diplomats was a strong message for Lebanon, and “their return is possible, but it is coupled with concrete Lebanese measures that restore heat to relations, instead of being satisfied with official emotional words about keenness on relations with the Gulf.”

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