Date :Friday, October 3rd, 2014 | Time : 10:58 |ID: 17597 | Print

Saudi Arabia waiting on new president for $3B grant to Lebanon

SHAFAQNA – Saudi Arabia is seeking assurances that Hezbollah will not benefit from the $3 billion arms deal the kingdom inked with France last winter to bolster the Lebanese Army, according the French media. The Saudis “want to wait until Lebanon has a president who conforms to their interests and they can get guarantees that the weapons won’t end up in Hezbollah’s hands,” according to an anonymous French source cited by French journalist Georges Malbrunot in an article published in today’s edition of  Le Figaro.

Through the tripartite agreement, the Saudis would give $3 billion in French weapons and training to the Lebanese Army. The deal, however, appears stalled.

The arms deal is “not advancing,” the source told Malbrunot.

“I don’t know what happened,” Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi told Malbrunot. “The Lebanese have done their part of the deal. I signed a list of requested arms with the French, and we sent it to the Saudis. I went to Saudi Arabia, and we had very good meetings with both Saudi and French delegations. Now we’re just waiting for the Saudi signature.”

It remains unclear, however, why the Saudis are willing to clear an urgent $1 billion military aid package in the wake of the battles of Arsal where the Lebanese Army battled terrorist groups in early August.

Unlike the French deal, the latest package, which is being administered by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, had “no conditions” according to a member of the French military.

Last week, French minister Marylise Lebranchu admitted that the Saudis had concerns about the initial deal.

“The Saudis have raised questions about the accord as it was passed,” Lebranchu told journalists after meeting with politicians and civil servants in Beirut last week. “Otherwise, it would be finished.”

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