Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The Issue Is Bigger Than Qordahi

After a long endurance - like ‘the patience of Ayoub’ - Saudi Arabia finally did it and decided to correct its relationship with the captive Lebanese state, summoning its ambassador from Beirut, and asking the Lebanese ambassador to leave Riyadh.

The use of Ayoub’s metaphor came because of repetitive abusive acts over the course of years, which were met by the Kingdom’s patience and hope that these negative stances would be rectified.

However, with all the warnings issued by Riyadh to the successive Lebanese governments, the Saudi patience has gradually started to wear out due to the recurrent negative steps taken by the Lebanese side, towards Saudi Arabia, its policies and its people, along with false promises from the changing governments, which unfortunately confirmed the absence of sincere intentions!

Those, who think that the Saudi decisions were taken in the wake of the statements of Lebanese Minister of Information George Qordahi, are mistaken, despite the fact that any country that is targeted by such aggressive stances has the right to defend its sovereignty.

However, many are aware that Qordahi’s statements are only “the straw that broke the camel’s back”…

In fact, the Lebanese state has turned into a major international crossing for drugs targeting Saudi Arabia, and its successive governments have failed to respond to the Saudi demand to stop the smuggling of drugs via Lebanese exports. Moreover, Hezbollah’s leadership has announced a strategy of enmity with Saudi Arabia through the Lebanese state, in addition to supporting, training and equipping the Houthis… The situation culminated with Lebanese ministers declaring their hostility to Saudi Arabia, including Qordahi, who did not only support the Houthi attacks on Saudi civilian areas, but boldly asserted the rightfulness of his positions, and his refusal to back down from them.

Consequently, after all these repeated hostile stances, is the Saudi government blamed for taking the “minimum” measures to protect its sovereignty, people and interests?!

What prevented Saudi Arabia for years from adopting strong policies in response to the hostile positions of the Lebanese state, is its concern for the Lebanese people, who are crushed by the government of their country.

Saudi concern for the Lebanese people can be demonstrated by not taking any decision against hundreds of thousands of Lebanese working in the Kingdom, even as the Lebanese government - through its Minister of Information - supports attacks on Saudi citizens. Here I can objectively affirm that Saudi Arabia was keener on the Lebanese citizens than the Lebanese government itself.

Moreover, despite the continuous mobilization of many Lebanese media outlets against the Saudi people, and against (the few) Saudi tourists visiting Lebanon, and the attacks that dozens of them have been subjected to, not a single Lebanese has been exposed to any kind of aggression in Saudi Arabia… On the contrary, the Lebanese community there enjoys security and stability, which lack in their homeland…

Why? The answer is simply because Saudi Arabia fully separates between the government and the people. It does not incite against them, as did Hezbollah and the government it is riding…

The best evidence is the statement of the Saudi Foreign Ministry when it affirmed the Saudi keenness on the Lebanese citizens residing in the Kingdom, whom it considers part of the fabric and bond that unites the Saudi people and their Arab brothers.

Saudi Arabia did what it should have done long time ago. The ball is now in the court of the remaining Lebanese parties, who must determine where Lebanon’s real interests lie.

They should also try to answer the “Millionaire question”: Is Lebanon destined to remain hijacked by Iran and aggressive to its Arab brothers? If they chose the worn-out response of: “It’s not in our hands”, then they should not expect others to defend their interests more than they do.