190909 Anwar Gargash
Anwar Gargash Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, has said that the UAE has repeatedly warned Lebanon against deteriorating relations with Gulf countries.

“We have seen the accumulation of problems in Lebanon, and we have also seen a dictation of political discourse by Hezbollah, which already has an army inside the country,” the minister said. “If you burn your bridges, it will be very difficult for you to use the huge balance of goodwill and the huge balance of financial support that Lebanon needs.”

In statements to CNBC, he added that the economic collapse that Lebanon is witnessing is very worrying, but Lebanon is responsible for the deterioration of its Arab relations and its Gulf relations over the past ten years, and it pays partially the price of that. He stressed that the UAE will not provide financial support, except in coordination with other countries. He explained, “If we see some of our friends and major powers interested in Lebanon working on a plan, we will think about it.”

The deterioration of the Lebanese economy has continued over the past months at dangerous rates, without showing any indications of obtaining regional or international support. The countries of the region and the world have distanced from it because of Hezbollah’s domination of the country’s capabilities, and its regional and international policies.

Lebanon is suffering from the worst economic collapse in decades. Tens of thousands have lost their livelihood or part of their income due to the crisis that drove hundreds of thousands to take to the streets on October 17, disgruntled at the political class.

As the Lebanese economy continues to deteriorate, there are no indications that it has obtained any regional or international support.

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, stressed that the United States is ready to support Lebanon if it acts without being a prisoner of Hezbollah, which was behind the formation of the current government.

The Gulf states have been granting substantial aid to Lebanon to support its fragile economy, but they have stopped subsidies due to Hezbollah’s domination of the system and government policies in the country.

On Thursday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who has been facing popular government anti-government moves for months because of an unprecedented economic and social crisis, warned of the consequences of “tampering with security and the street”, after protests punctuated by limited riots two weeks ago.

Aoun’s positions came during a “national meeting” that he called at the presidential palace in Baabda, and was boycotted by the opposition political forces, headed by Christian party heads: Lebanese forces, battalions, and the Marada Movement. Also absent from it were former prime ministers, led by Saad Hariri, head of the Future Movement. They criticised the performance of the authorities, saying that the priority should be to take urgent rescue measures to stop the accelerating collapse that is pushing citizens to take to the streets.

Representatives of Hezbollah and the rest of the allied blocs participated in the meeting, in the presence of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

The meeting ended with a closing statement calling for “the cessation of all kinds of provocative campaigns that would stir strife and threaten civil peace.” He stressed that “the violent opposition that cuts the homeland away and continues its children and harms public and private property does not fall into the category of democratic and peaceful opposition,” considering that “in the time of existential crises, the government and the opposition meet and work together.”

In recent days, sharp criticism has emerged from political forces opposed to Aoun and the government in facing the economic crisis, as a result of the inability to take any practical measures. Officials have been holding meetings with the International Monetary Fund for weeks, hoping to obtain support of more than 20 billion dollars.