The dust had not settled on the controversy over comments against Saudi Arabia made by a Lebanese cabinet minister regarding the Yemen war when another Lebanese party — this time the terror group Hezbollah — made outrageous comments against the Kingdom.
The hapless Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati was left on Monday to distance himself from the inflammatory outburst from the Hezbollah leader. He said what Nasrallah said about the Kingdom did not represent the position of his government and most Lebanese. Lebanese authorities say they are trying to mend relations with Saudi Arabia. However, Mikati either cannot or will not do anything about it. His government contains several ministers backed by Hezbollah and its ally, Amal.
The presence of the group has spelt nothing but disaster for Lebanon. It has distanced this culturally rich and politically important Arab country from the wider Arab world. Despite decades of Gulf largesse that has helped Lebanon economically and politically, members of its government and other figures continue to make vile comments against GCC states and do everything possible to undermine Gulf security.
In December, George Kordahi, who made the objectionable comments on the Yemen war, resigned from his post as information minister. But his resignation did nothing to improve relations with the Gulf.
President Michel Aoun has called for dialogue with Saudi Arabia to resolve the diplomatic crisis. However, his Free Patriotic Movement is one of Hezbollah’s closest allies. In fact, he owes his position as president to the group.
All this political hotheadedness comes at a time of near-total economic collapse in Lebanon. The currency had become worthless, having lost 90 per cent of its value. This once-middle income country is now a decidedly poor one. Gunfights are breaking out in supermarkets over diapers and baby-food. Meat has become an unaffordable luxury for most. Electricity is a rare commodity and lines outside petrol stations can stretch for kilometres. On top of all of this, there is government paralysis and a non-state actor that is holding the state hostage.
That the political dispensation in Lebanon has allowed itself to be at the mercy of a heavily armed group that answers to a foreign patron is a disgrace. Until and unless this changes, Lebanon will never be able to fully integrate into the regional and international system. Alas, no one is holding their breath.