RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is monitoring the situation, while several Lebanese politicians still continue trading accusations over the Saudi decision to halt the $4 billion aid to the Lebanese security forces.
In a dramatic turn of events, however, Lebanese Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi resigned from the cabinet on Sunday, saying that the Hezbollah terrorist group is harming Beirut’s relations with Arab countries.
“The Kingdom is keeping an eye on the situation, but it is too early to draw conclusions,” said Ali Awad Asiri, Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, in a statement released to Ashraq Al-Awsat.
Asiri said that “the embassy is carefully watching the Lebanese reaction toward the Saudi decision, especially the reports of non-Lebanese irresponsible media… that serves no interests.”
Asiri said that “the picture is clear now; there are parties that want to destroy Lebanon on the one hand, and on the other, there are parties, who want to protect it.”
His remarks follow Saudi Arabia’s announcement on Friday that it has halted a $4 billion program for military supplies to Lebanon in protest against Hezbollah’s anti-Arab policies.

In fact, Lebanese Minister Rifi attributed the cause of his resignation to the growing clout of Hezbollah, a group supporting Iran and opposing Arab solidarity.
The resignation of Rifi, a longtime critic of the Hezbollah, comes two days after Saudi Arabia halted deals aimed at equipping and supporting Lebanese security forces.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has strongly backed the Saudi decision, raising concerns it could have repercussions for thousands of Lebanese living and working in Gulf countries.
The Saudi decision came after Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil declined to support Saudi resolutions against Iran during two major meetings of Arab and Muslim foreign ministers.
Bassil dared to offend Saudi Arabia at the request of Hezbollah, Rifi said.
“The practices of Hezbollah and its allies are not acceptable and staying in the government means approving them.”
Current Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam, however, has called on the Kingdom to reconsider its decision.
Rifi has also been campaigning against last month’s release of former Information Minister Michel Samaha, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Samaha was convicted by a Lebanese military court on charges of plotting bombings at the behest of Syria.
He was sentenced in May to four-and-a-half years in prison.
In yet another blow, which may or may not be related to the ongoing tiff; the National Commercial Bank (NCB) of Saudi Arabia announced that it will close its branches in Lebanon.
“The two NCB branches in Beirut formed part of the NCB International Banking Segment and their closure will have no financial impact on the bank’s current financial statements,” said a bourse filing.
Referring to the hostile attitude shown by a section of Lebanese officials toward Arab nations including the Kingdom; Adam M. Shalan, a professor of political science, said that “Lebanon, or for that matter any other nation, should not take the Saudi support for granted.”
The Kingdom, he said, has been giving aid and sending relief supplies to a number of poor nations across the world including Lebanon.
To this end, it must be noted that the Kingdom also continues to provide relief and humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees taking shelter in Lebanon.
On Sunday also, a total of 4,700 winter clothes were distributed by the Kingdom among Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Walid Jalal, chief of Saudi relief operations in Lebanon, pointed out that more than 470 Syrian families benefited from the relief supplies.

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