05-08-2021 06:59 AM Jerusalem Timing

Lebanese Concerns over Repercussions of Saudi-Qatari Clash

Lebanese Concerns over Repercussions of Saudi-Qatari Clash

The Lebanese warily watched the Saudi-Qatari clash, in an attempt to rectify the results that could affect Lebanon negatively, especially in the shade of the continued stalling in the process of drafting the ministerial statement.

Daoud Rammal

The Lebanese people warily watched the Saudi-Qatari clash,. in an attempt to rectify the results that could affect Lebanon negatively, especially in the shade of the continued stalling in the process of drafting the ministerial statement regarding the ‘resistance’ clause.

This clash remarkably coincides with a set of developments that have recently taken place:
-    Egypt’s decision crack down on “Hamas” movement by banning all its activities in Egypt.  
-    Saudi Arabia’s decision to designate the “Muslim Brotherhood” as a “terrorist” group in addition to “ISIL”, “Nusra Front”, “Al- Qaeda”, and “Saudi Hezbollah”.
-    Israel’s confiscation of weapons ship allegedly sent by Iran to “Hamas” in Gaza.

In fact, the Lebanese people know that Saudi Arabia has an active role in Lebanon and that Qatar has an influential role therein as well. This implies that Lebanese concerns are related to the fear of expanding the Saudi-Qatari clash that might reach it, as it might also have a direct impact on the events in Syria. Perhaps the release of the Maaloula nuns, thanks to Qatar’s direct intervention, is one of the implications of this clash, though positively. Yet, a question remains: How will Saudi Arabia respond?

Five years ago a Saudi prince sent his personal plane to Beirut to transfer a national prominent national reference to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. He spent about two weeks and returned back to Beirut. The doctors asked him to return to Riyadh after seven months to complete his treatment. When that period ended, the said reference told the same Saudi Prince that the date to complete treatment has come, but the plane did not reach the airport, and then was the biggest surprise when he was told also that there is no visa for him to Saudi Arabia, protesting against his position that supports the resistance and that rejects some Saudi policies. At that time, that reference criticized the “State that fears a position.”

This was repeated when Saudi Arabia started to intervene directly in the Syrian war, politically, militarily, and financially, and to support the Takfiri groups, not to mention the positions issued by Saudi officials, what prompted that same reference to describe one of these officials as a “Commander of an axis on the battlefronts in Syria.”

Based upon this, an expert diplomat commented on the current Gulf controversy, considering that “the decision of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain to withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar has been made under deep uncertainty. It confirmed beyond any doubt that Saudi Arabia has fallen twice:

First: When it looked as if it is neither the speaker nor the leader of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Therefore, it is one of the six countries, and not all of them support it.

Second: Its inability to influence the smallest country in the world that its population does not exceed the population of any of Riyadh’s neighborhoods, what made it look as if it is feeble.”

The diplomat believed that “Qatar had a well-planned reaction to what has been done by Riyadh. Its announcement that it will not withdraw its ambassadors from Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Manama, reflects Qatar’s realization of the repercussions of such a step, yet the Saudi leadership, Bahrain and the UAE did not take notice of this.”

The source stressed that “Qatar committed a mistake when it supported the Muslim Brotherhood in the so-called the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria, as it made a mistake in facing Russia in the UN Security Council, what made it change the structure of its ruling system. However, Qatar did not learn from this lesson, where its new emir was expected to take lessons from the mistakes of the previous regime, to stop intentionally supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab Spring countries, to re-arrange the affairs of Qatar with Egypt and with its military leadership, and to stop the media organizations that are loyal to Qatar from carrying things too far.”

The source added that “this does not absolve on the other hand Saudi Arabia from its mistakes, at a time when it was supposed to be watchful and conscious. Its mistakes are not less dangerous than Qatar’s ones in terms of supporting the Takfiri factions in all of Egypt, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, and even Lebanon. Moreover, the Royal Saudi declaration to imprison everyone fighting outside the territory of Saudi Arabia is not enough and came too late, especially since there are thousands of Saudis who are fighting extremist groups in Afghanistan and Chechnya through Iraq down to Syria.”

The source praised “the wisdom of both Oman and Kuwait for not following the crowd i.e. neither following Saudi Arabia’s footsteps nor that of Qatar, and this gives them both a great opportunity to play an important role in bridging the gap, as what happened previously.”

The source suggested that “Lebanon greatly prefers to keep Kuwait and Oman outside the circle of the Gulf conflict, because the Saudi-Qatari tension should be resolved by a neutral side, so as not to see Gulf skirmishes in Lebanon.”

The source wondered “how the political leadership in the United Arab Emirates supported Saudi Arabia’s decision, even if Dubai accuses Qatar of forming Muslim Brotherhood cells in the United Arab Emirates, because it is well-known that the United Arab Emirates and its officials are wise and shrewd when dealing with the affairs of their country, with the GCC in particular, and with the Arab world in general. As for Bahrain, the political leadership did not deal wisely with its internal affairs, so what it has done was not surprising.”

Translated by: Maysa Hazimeh