Saudi Arabia Blocks $3 Billion French Armored Vehicles, Other Military Aid To Lebanon

  • Our Bureau
  • 02:30 PM, February 22, 2016
  • 3675

Saudi Arabia has blocked a $3 billion armored vehicles and other military aid to Lebanon in protest against ‘Hezbollah’ fighting in support of Syrian regime.

"In the wake of Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group’s position to align with Syria’s regime, Saudi Arabia has proceeded to ‘a comprehensive review of its relation with the Lebanese republic,” Saudi press agency quoted an unnamed official as saying last Friday.

The remainder of a $1 billion financing package that does not includes military supplies for Lebanese internal security forces has also been stopped in a separate decision.

"Lebanese army command hasn't been informed" of the Saudi aid halt. Hezbollah, however, said the Saudi decision came as no surprise and "was taken quite some time ago,” a Lebanese military source was quoted as saying to AFP.

The $3 Billion military aid, known as Donas, provided by France aimed to ensure stability in a Lebanon weakened by internal divisions and threatened by jihadists.

Alleged leaders of Lebanon-based Hezbollah are under sanction by Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah is supported by the kingdom's regional rival Iran, with whom relations have worsened this year.

The official quoted by the Saudi Press Agency said the kingdom had noticed "hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the State".

The Saudi official said Lebanon had not joined condemnation of the attacks on its diplomatic missions in Iran, either at the Arab League or the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

The United Arab Emirates supported the Saudi move, which resulted from repeated Lebanese violations of Arab solidarity in a "blatant, offensive, disturbing and surprising" manner after Hezbollah "hijacked" Lebanon's agenda, the official WAM news agency reported, citing the foreign ministry.

The Donas programme was to ship vehicles, helicopters, drones, cannons and other equipment to Lebanon.

After an initial delivery of 48 Milan anti-tank missiles in April the programme was delayed as Saudi authorities sought a review of certain aspects of the deal, a French source said earlier.

But France's Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian later said "the execution of Donas resumed normally at the end of 2015", as reflected in the signing of contracts with the companies concerned.

This included a deal for about 200 armoured vehicles. 

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