BEIRUT— Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said Friday that Gulf countries’ demand to disarm Hezbollah to resolve the diplomatic crisis between them and Lebanon would lead to a “civil war.”
Here’s what we know:
• “To ask us to do something beyond our means is a call for a civil war that we refuse,” Bou Habib said in an interview with Al-Joumhouria.
• “A meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council is scheduled for the end of this month, and the Lebanese issue should be discussed,” said Bou Habib. He added that Kuwaiti officials were “very reassured by the Lebanese response I sent them. The head of diplomacy [of Kuwait] is a very understanding and cooperative person.”
• Lebanon is trying to restore its ties with the Gulf countries after a video that surfaced last October during which then-Information Minister George Kurdahi criticized Riyadh's role in the war in Yemen triggered a diplomatic crisis, prompting Saudi Arabia to pull its ambassador from Beirut and ban imports from Lebanon. While Kurdahi has since resigned, the Gulf countries have made clear that their issue with Lebanon is broader than the video incident and has to do with Hezbollah’s influence in the country.
• French and Saudi leaders said in December that they had agreed on a joint mechanism for humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, but so far no such framework has been forthcoming.
• In an attempt to broker a rapprochement, Kuwait submitted twelve proposals to the Lebanese authorities, during a visit by the head of diplomacy to Beirut last January in order to move towards a diplomatic thaw. This roadmap included several requests including organizing legislative elections and launching reforms, it also called on the disarmament and dissolution of all militias, a jab at Hezbollah.
• On Friday, a report issued by the political committee of the 32nd meeting of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in Cairo expressed solidarity with the Lebanese people in light of the economic crisis for the country to regain stability, return normal life to its institutions and preserve the sovereignty of its territory.
• Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who has been attending the meeting in Cairo since Thursday, criticized on Friday the report issued by the union on solidarity between the Arab countries and expressed Lebanon’s reservations to it.
• “I believe that we are gathered here under the title of Arab solidarity, but where is the solidarity in this report?” asked Berri, as reported by the National News Agency. “What about the common Arab market? What about solidarity in the face of terrorism? There must be Arab coordination on this plan.”
• On Thursday, Berri had called on the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union to oversee the Lebanese parliamentary elections scheduled for May 15.