The US-led strike against Syrian regime targets on the eve of the Arab summit has mounted additional burdens on Beirut as Lebanese officials attempt to find a middle ground between Arab consensus and stances related to Syria and “Hezbollah”.
It appears that Lebanon achieved its goal in obtaining an Arab recognition of its “right to resistance,” as stipulated in a statement released after an Arab foreign ministers meeting that was held this week ahead of Sunday’s summit.
The Arab summit will be hosted by Saudi Arabia in the city of Dhahran.
The foreign ministers voiced their “complete” solidarity with Lebanon, stressing the need to provide its government and institutions with political and economic support in a manner that “will preserve its national unity, security, stability and territorial sovereignty.”
They also acknowledged its right to liberate the Shebaa, Kfarshouba hills and Lebanese part of the Ghajar village that are occupied by Israel.
They said that Lebanon has the right to resist any assault through legitimate means, stressing the importance of differentiating between terrorism and legitimate resistance against Israel.
Resistance acts should not be considered terrorist, added the Arab ministers.
Arab diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that there is Arab and international agreement to safeguard Lebanon’s stability and support its official institutions. They highlighted in this regard the recent Rome and Paris conferences that were held on Lebanon.
“Hezbollah,” said the sources, is a completely different issue, which the international community is determined to deal with and “soon.”
Arab countries cannot tolerate having their security threatened by a militia, they continued, saying that the party “has become even unbearable in Lebanon.”
What Lebanon has gained in theory, it will lose when it comes to Iranian meddling.
The ministers described “Hezbollah” as terrorist on at least three occasions. At one point it was referred to as “the terrorist ‘Hezbollah’, a partner in the Lebanese government.” The ministers held it responsible for supporting terrorism and terrorist groups in the Arab world through supplying them with advanced arms and ballistic missiles.
This was a clear message to the Lebanese government, which will be forced to express its “reservations” on these articles of the statement.
Lebanese official sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Beirut is keen on avoiding “going against Arab consensus.”
Other articles in the Arab foreign ministers’ statement followed closely last year’s remarks issued by the Arab summit in Amman.
They reiterated that Lebanon was “on the verge of social, economic and security collapse” due to the ongoing burden of Syrian refugees.
It also omitted a statement that welcomed the election of Michel Aoun as president.