Saudis Pledge $3 Billion to Support Lebanon’s Army

30 Dec 2013   Lebanon

Saudi Arabia pledged $3 billion to bolster Lebanon’s armed forces, in a challenge to the Iranian-allied Hezbollah militia’s decadeslong status as Lebanon’s main power broker and security force. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman revealed the Saudi gift on Lebanese national television Sunday, calling it the largest aid package ever to the country’s defense bodies. The Saudi pledge compares with Lebanon’s 2012 defense budget, which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute put at $1.7 billion. Lebanon would use the Saudi grant to buy “newer and more modern weapons,” from France, said Mr. Sleiman, an independent who has become increasingly critical of Hezbollah. It followed what he called “decades of unsuccessful efforts” to build a credible Lebanese national defense force. As a direct challenge to Hezbollah, the Saudi gift—and the Lebanese president’s acceptance—has potential to change the balance of power in Lebanon and the region. It also threatens to raise sectarian and […]

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