Beirut: Free Patriotic Movement leader and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jibran Bassil was formally warned by several Arab ambassadors that Lebanon could face the wrath of the Gulf states if Hezbollah makes any moves that backs Qatar in the ongoing crisis between Doha and leading Arab States.
On Friday, Ambassador Hamad Saeed Al Shamsi from the UAE, along with his Egyptian counterpart Nazih Al Najari and the Saudi chargé d’affaires Sultan Al Sibai, met Bassil and asked the latter about Beirut’s position.
According to the Kuwaiti daily Al Ra’i, the Foreign Minister responded that the Lebanese Government sought to implement a policy of dissociation (al-na’i bil-nafs) and that it intended to remain on good terms with all Arab countries.
The three diplomats expressed their displeasure with Lebanon’s official position, after they spoke to their host countries, unnamed sources told the daily.
The diplomats reportedly told Bassil that Lebanon could not be neutral when it came to terrorism and warned that any action taken by Hezbollah to back Qatar would implicate the entire country — a full break in diplomatic ties was not ruled out.
“While each country’s specific national security interests should be taken into account, Lebanon is obliged to abide by policies which seek to mitigate danger posed towards Arab countries, especially towards a state which embraces, funds and otherwise supports terrorism,” a senior Arab diplomat told the Lebanese Al Jumhuriyyah daily on Monday.
Lebanese officials have been relatively mute since the Qatar crisis erupted last week as its government struggles to balance its power considerations with its regional and international counter-terrorism pledges.
Lebanese president Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement is part of a political alliance with the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement. On the other hand, Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri is close to Saudi Arabia and is part of the March 14 anti-Syrian coalition which regularly clashes with pro-Iranian elements in the country — especially Hezbollah.