Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Al-Bukhari organized on Saturday a forum on the 33rd anniversary of the Taif accord which ended the 15-year civil war in Lebanon. The Arab Kingdom mobilized dozens of politicians, businessmen and academic figures to attend the meeting, in a move seen as aimed against Hezbollah, which was excluded by Riyadh.
On the diplomatic level, Saturday’s meeting, at the UNESCO Palace, was attended by United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka, Algerian envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who played an important role in reaching the 1989 pact and many other diplomats.
“Carnival of Mobilization”
On the political level, dozens of officials, politicians and religious figures took part in the forum. Nearly all of the Christian powers were invited. Beirut’s Maronite Bishop Bolus Matar, along with many prominent Christian figures, including Hezbollah’s allies the Free Patriotic Movement and the Marada party attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Shiite power were almost absent, except for some personages, including anti-Hezbollah figures. Even Speaker Nabih Berri, the first Shiite official in the Lebanese State, was represented by a Sunni figure, MP Abdul Karim Kabbara.
As for the Sunni representation, many figures attended the meeting in the UNESCO Palace, including caretaker PM Najib Mikati and former premier Fuad Siniora. However, all of those couldn’t replace former PM Saad Hariri, which is still considered by both friends and enemies as the first Sunni figure in Lebanon.
Walid Jumblatt, Druze politician and Progressive Socialist Party Leader, also showed up in the forum.
Describing Saturday’s meeting, Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar said on Monday it was like a “public relations party” by the Saudi Kingdom.
“The Saudi Embassy spared no figure in Lebanon. It invited both prominent and low-profile personages to its forum on the 33rd anniversary on Taif accord,” Al-Akhbar Lina Fakhreddine said in an article entitled: “Bukhari’s Carnival: Seeking a Delusive Enemy”.
“Invitations which were delivered to hundreds of beggars who seek to please the ‘Kingdom of charity’ neither covered up the Shiite absence nor the unnoticeable Sunni representation. Bukhari invited any Tom, Dick and Harry to the meeting in a bid to mobilize against a delusive enemy in a battle that lacks any opposite party,” the Lebanese paper said.
Saudi Prevents Lebanon’s Dialogue
On the other hand, and away from the show the Saudi Kingdom brought to the fore on Saturday, Bukhari came up with suspicious remarks that draw the attention of many commentators.
“France assured us that there will never be a call for dialogue or meetings to review the Taif agreement,” Bukhari, who was recently in Paris said during Saturday’s meeting.
Several Lebanese media outlets, including those who stand by the Saudi camp in the country, beaten the drum for Bukhari who “confirmed that there is no intention to amend the Taif Agreement,” considering that the remarks “reflect the keenness of Saudi Arabia’s leadership to preserve Lebanon’s security, unity, and national reconciliation.”
Though, such remarks were seen by other journalists and commentators as “clear interference” by Riyadh in Lebanese local affairs.
بكل بساطة, يذكر السفير السعودي في لبنان ويُجاهِر أنه التقى بمستشاري ماكرون وطلبَ تعهداً بان الحكومة الفرنسيّة لن تسمح بحوار بين اللبنانيّين. الحكومة السعوديّة تصارح اللبنانيّين بأنها ستمنع الحوار بين الأحزاب والقادة السياسيّين. تصوّر او تصوّري لو أن القائل هو السفير الإيراني
— asad abukhalil أسعد أبو خليل (@asadabukhalil) November 5, 2022
“The Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon simply and clearly mentions that he met (French President Emanuel) Macron’s advisors and asked for a French guarantee that a Lebanese dialogue won’t be allowed. The Saudi Government explicitly tells the Lebanese people it will prevent dialogue between parties and political leaders,” Lebanese journalist and political academic Asad Abu Khalil said in a tweet shortly after Saturday’s meeting.
Hezbollah Won’t Allow Saudi Meddling
In face of this Saudi game which was brought out into the open, Hezbollah said it clear: “We won’t allow the Saudi meddling.”
In an interview with Fras News Agency, Hezbollah Deputy Chief Sheikh Naim Qassem asserted that the Lebanese resistance party has never called for amending the Taif Agreement.
“Let’s implement the Taif (Agreement) first, then we would see if it needs amendments,” he told Fars on Sunday.
“The Saudi ambassador wants to fill the political vacuum caused by the absence of former PM Saad Hariri, who was ordered by Riyadh to halt its political activity in Lebanon. The Saudi ambassador is interfering in small details related to the Lebanese local affairs and this doesn’t serve the national interest.”
For his part, Member of Hezbollah’s Central Council Sheikh Nabil Qawouq described Bukhari’s remarks as “toxic meddling”.
“The Saudi is suing discord among Lebanese and preventing dialogue,” the Hezbollah official was quoted as saying by local media on Sunday.
“Any of the major political parties had never raised the issue of Taif. Exploiting this affair is aimed at diverting attention from seditious scheme plotted by Saudi as well as Riyad’s move to hinder national dialogue and presidential elections.”
Two days after the forum in UNESCO Palace, the role of Saudi Embassy in the Lebanese internal affairs has been clear. In his Saturday’s tweet, journalist Abu Khalil wondered if Bukhari’s remarks were said by the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon. The answer of Abu Khalil’s question is clear: An all-out battle will be launched in order to save Lebanon from the “Iranian occupation”!
Source: Al-Manar English Website