A partnership between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon claims to be aiming to ease the financial and societal crisis in Lebanon.
$32 million is the sum of funds that Riyadh and Paris pledged to begin a set of humanitarian initiatives in Lebanon. The project aims to aid the country’s crippling financial problems.
France and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement last weeks following talks between French diplomats and economic officials and Saudi Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. The agreement will secure about $32 million for the initial humanitarian efforts. More funds are to follow the preliminary steps.
Lebanon’s frozen medical service and food supply will be the emphasis of the initial program. It targets 7,500 individuals with monthly monetary support for nutrition. It also helps hospitals in Lebanese northern regions, as well as providing infant formula to specific families.
Energy, Schooling, water resource, and Lebanese local military Forces will be the emphasis of the future programs.
Lebanon has been mired in a debilitating financial downturn since 2019, decimating welfare and businesses. Poverty has smashed more than 70% of the people. This is despite the fact that the Lebanese currency has shed 90% of its power and that the country’s inflation rate is very high.
Two months ago, Paris and Riyadh agreed to create a cooperative aid structure for Lebanon. The agreement comes 2 weeks after Saudi Arabia restored its embassy in Beirut following months of disputes. The move proved part of a gradual re-establishment of relations with Lebanon.
“This support comes as Saudi Arabia and France’s commitment to stand with the Lebanese people and to contribute to its stability and development,” Saudi Ambassador to Beirut said last week. Waleed Bukhari also added that Riyadh means to “support anything that eases the suffering of those in need.”
Lebanon Challenge with Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia was previously Lebanon’s most major social and economic supporter. It has poured billions of dollars into Lebanese tourist industry.
Nevertheless, Riyadh has been particularly cautions in recent years about Hezbollah’s expanding political strength and influence among the people. Saudi Arabia’s apparent humanitarian mission means to assist the country to reconstruct its reputation in Lebanon. This will be particularly meaningful for the special groups, who are already struggling to deal with the economic turmoil.
“The French-Saudi initiative indicates France and Saudi Arabia’s desire to be involved stakeholders in the Lebanon file,” MENA Programme chief in a western think-tank said. “But it does not mean that either country will offer Lebanon a comprehensive financial rescue package, or that they will prioritize Lebanon.”
Weeks before entering the Lebanese cabinet, the ex-TV host made the comment. He described the conflict as “futile,” adding that the Houthi movement were protecting their land from foreign assault. Two months later, Kordahi resigned from office.
last Lebanese PM Sa’ad Hariri, a major political partner of the Kingdom, took a break from politics early in 2022. Hariri’s “Future Movement” won’t run in the legislative polls two weeks from now.
Saudi Kingdom is, by the way, hesitating to commit to the fresh political approach in Lebanon, according to analysts. Riyadh would not initiate substantial initiatives until after the country’s legislative polls on May 15.
More importantly, Saudi Arabia has always conditioned the investments in Lebanon on its own political and financial interests. Rising popularity of Hezbollah might be decisive in future developments between the two sides. Humanitarian aspect stands a second priority for Riyadh.