Saudi Arabia halts military aid to Lebanon over militia concerns

Saudi Arabia announced Friday that it was halting a 4-billion-dollar military aid programme for Lebanon, saying it was concerned about money ending up in the hands of the Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.

"The kingdom has re-evaluated its relations with Lebanon and decided to stop the aid for the Lebanese army," the official SPA news agency in Saudi Arabia quoted a source as saying.

The SPA source denounced Hezbollah's "confiscation of the Lebanese state's will."

The announcement affects two deals. One, for 3 billion dollars in military hardware for the armed forces and another 1 billion dollars in aid for the police.

Hezbollah is a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has committed troops to help his forces. Iran backs both and is in a regional power struggle with Saudi Arabia, a Sunni monarchy.

Saudi Arabia has been a key backer of the Syrian opposition since the start of the uprising against al-Assad in 2011.

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Jubran Bassil, whose bloc in parliament is a main ally of Hezbollah, has been accused as well of adopting stances against the wishes of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis influence over the Lebanese government has been in decline after a period in which the kingdom had strong allies in Beirut.  

Last update: Fri, 19/02/2016 - 19:31
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