Photo has been used for illustrative purpose.
The meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Beirut is a reassurance to crisis-ridden Lebanon that it has the trust, and support of the Arab countries, and that it is an integral part of the Arab world.
There was an explicit assurance of support for Lebanon in its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Arab League secretary-general Ahmed Aboul Gheit said, “We came to say there’s a problem and you must seek to resolve it.”
The League officials called on Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who talked of the importance of regional relations and about the “critical circumstances the Arab world is going through, the challenge it is facing” which requires “utmost consultation and cooperation.”
Aoun also referred to the challenges that Lebanon was facing and admitted that the country was unable to bear the burden of the Syrian refugees.
League secretary-general Gheit admitted that the Syrian refugee problem was a complex one. He said, “Everyone supports ending the pressure of Syrian refugees.
The Lebanese state provides with care but when decisions similar to agreeing on their return to their country are taken, some specific circumstances should be present.” He referred to the ongoing civil war, which has caused huge destruction, and reckoned that it would need $500 million to “rehabilitate Syrian infrastructure.”
He also said, “These are very complex issues that cannot be resolved with a simple decision. But the international community has the will to end the Syrian war and is still exerting pressure when it comes to the matter of refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and other countries.”
The League ministerial delegation also met Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who said that Lebanon was requesting “Arab brothers to come and get to the core of its suffering.” Berri also informed that Lebanon’s negotiation with Israel on demarcating the maritime borders to get the gas extraction was proceeding through American mediation.
Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati assured that Lebanon’s commitment to implementing resolutions from the UN Security Council and Arab League which reinforced dissociation of policy toward any Arab dispute over territory and sovereignty, of causing offence to any Arab state and threat to its security.
Lebanon has become very conscious of its relations with the neighbouring Arab states, which caused a huge disturbance in the previous government before the April election when most Gulf Arab states boycotted trade with Lebanon.
The League delegation also received a letter from the Sovereign Front in Lebanon, which opposes Hizbollah and Iran’s role in Lebanon. It explicitly demanded “the activation of Lebanon’s right to be free from the Iranian dominance that uses Lebanon and its territories as a platform to conduct hostilities, putting the country in danger and exposing it to attacks from all sides.” This is an indirect reference to Hizbollah’s and its armed militias’ attack on Israel, and Israel’s retaliatory attacks.
Lebanon is keen to move into the Arab circle and be free of Iran’s influence in its internal politics because geographically and politically, Lebanon sees itself as an Arab country, and that its political and economic future lie with its Arab neighbourhood and not that of Iran.
The meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers in Beirut has been used to convey this point to the League functionaries and indirectly to Hizbollah in Lebanon and to Iran. It is indeed an existential dilemma for Lebanon to know where it is in the international network, and its many leaders do not seem to entertain any doubt that Lebanon remains an Arab country and that it must be part of the Arab world. It is also clear that the Arab League too wanted to send out a similar message to the Lebanese that the League is with Lebanon in it its most critical moment.