BEIRUT — Lebanon's caretaker Minister of Interior Bassam Mawlawi reiterated Lebanon's commitment to the fight against drug trafficking Wednesday. He addressed his comments to Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, during a meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Abdel Aziz Ben Saoud Ben Nayef Ben Abdel Aziz al-Saoud, on the sidelines of a conference of Arab interior ministers in Tunisia.
"Mawlawi expressed Lebanon's commitment to the security of the Arab world, including that of Saudi Arabia and its people," according to a statement issued by his press office.
He reiterated "the country's commitment to the fight against drugs and trafficking to the Gulf countries," as well as the fight against terrorism and strengthening cooperation in this field, saying "our efforts will be focused in Lebanon on building the state and strengthening the confidence of the Arab population.”
Saudi authorities have repeatedly pinned down Lebanese authorities due to Beirut's role in large-scale trafficking of drugs, including Captagon, to the Gulf countries.
In recent months Lebanese security forces have intensified their fight against this kind of trafficking, after Saudi Arabia suspended the import of fruits and vegetables from Lebanon in April, 2021, following the discovery of more than five million Captagon pills hidden in fruit from Lebanon.
Mostly produced in Syria, Captagon has made that country the world's newest narco-state and the trade has taken deep root in neighboring Lebanon, whose economy has collapsed. This illicit drug has spread to the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia is the largest market.
In a speech at the general meeting in Tunis, Mawlawi also said that, in 2022, Internal Security Forces arrested more than eight terrorist cells that were planning attacks in Lebanon and abroad
"The ISF also made 1041 drug seizures, arrested 1,512 people involved in trafficking, confiscated more than 15 million pills of Captagon and six tons of cannabis, preventing the export of these products, especially to Arab countries," Mawlawi added.
He also insisted on Lebanon's Arab identity, as the country is often accused of aligning itself with the pro-Iranian axis given the positions and actions of Hezbollah.
"The Lebanese are aware that the salvation of their country will only be achieved through the blessings of the Arabs," the minister said. "The Lebanese will only choose legality based on state building and Arabism, despite the attempts to disrupt it," he concluded.