Najib Mikati
Najib Mikati, Lebanese Prime Minister Image Credit: Reuters

Lebanese PM Najib Mikati, and other Lebanese leaders before him, have often spoken about how they are eager for the best possible relations with other Arab states, especially with Gulf states that have stood by Lebanon throughout its unending crises. But facts of the ground tell another story.

Politician after politician, on numerous occasions, has made unacceptable and unwarranted comments about GCC countries, and their national and regional policies. The latest to surface were comments made by George Kurdahi, before he took office as information minister, about the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen to uphold the legitimacy of the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE summoned Lebanese envoys to protest the comments, and the GCC as an entity strongly criticised Kurdahi’s outburst. The UAE said the comments “reflect Lebanon’s growing distance from its Arab brotherly countries”. Kuwait also lashed out at the unacceptable comments, summoning the Lebanese charges d’affaires to register its protest.

The Lebanese ruling elite must realise that the world can see through their machinations. The government continues with a deceitful policy of pretending to adopt a certain neutrality in its relations with Arab states while one of the pillars of the government and the entity that underpins Lebanon’s security apparatus — Hezbollah — openly engages in acts that are harmful to Lebanon’s relations with Arab countries.

Such an attitude from Lebanese leaders will only have one outcome: It will increase the already big distance between Lebanon and other Arab states.

The heavily armed group Hezbollah — which has been described as a state within a state, and even as a state within a non-state — praised Kurdahi. This is hardly surprising as the group is the entity most responsible for the turmoil Lebanon finds itself in, and is the main vehicle of Iranian expansionism in Arab states. It relishes the fact that the gulf between Lebanon and other Arab countries is growing at an alarming rate, as this ties into the interests of its foreign patron.

Hezbollah has led Lebanon into ruinous wars with Israel and deployed fighters to Syria. Its military actions have had grave consequences for Lebanon diplomatically and economically. Besides, the hapless Lebanese government has been totally unable to deal with the group’s stranglehold on policymaking in the country.

Lebanon, with its history, culture, and unbelievably talented people, is a jewel in the Arab crown. Its destiny lies in the Arab fold. Its leaders must desist from any moves that endanger this destiny.