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THE SUNNI-SHIA CONFLICT – SAUDI ARABIA HALTS $ 3 bn TO LEBANON

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MoneySaudi Arabia said Friday 02/19/2016  it has stopped a $3 billion program for military supplies to Lebanon in protest against Hizballah, the Shiite militant group fighting in support of Syria’s regime. A move which is a derivative of the Sunni-Shia violent confrontation in the Middle East. Alleged leaders of Lebanon-based Hezbollah are already under sanction by Saudi Arabia.

In response, Lebanon’s Sunni PM Tammam Salam urged Saudi to reconsider the suspension of the package.

In light of positions taken by Iranian Shia proxy Hezbollah the kingdom proceeded to “a total evaluation of its relations with the Lebanese republic”, an unnamed official told the Saudi Press Agency earlier. The Shiites are more than 60% of Lebanon’s population and actually controlled directly by Hizbullah and indirectly by Iran, both firm supporters of the Alawite Bashar al- Assad’s regime in Syria, Alawite are considered a sect in the Shia faith .  

The kingdom’s loyal Gulf allies, the UAE and Bahrain,  expressed support for Saudi’s decision.

Saudi added that the remainder of a $1 billion financing package for Lebanese security forces had been suspended, in a separate decision.

The $3 billion program financed military equipment provided by France and since France extended significantly its commercial ties with Iran recently, following the Nuclear Deal with Iran from 07/14/2015 , the Saudi move is also a retaliatory measure  against France .

Lebanon received the first tranche of weapons designed to bolster its army against militant threats, including anti-tank guided missiles, in 04/2015 but the program then reportedly ran into obstacles.

In the statement, the Saudi official said Riyadh had always stood with Lebanon and supported the country through difficult times.

“Despite these honourable stands, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia had been met with Lebanese stands that are against it on Arab, regional and international arenas, in the shadow of the confiscation of the will of the state by the so-called Lebanese Hezbollah,” the statement said. 

The Saudi statement said Lebanon, at recent meetings of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, had failed to condemn “the blatant aggression on the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad,” last month (01/20/2016).

Following the sharp decline in oil prices Saudi Arabia is facing growing economic problems   Saudi Arabia credit rating was downgraded, on Wednesday 02/17/2016,   the second time sequentially since 10/2015 over the low oil prices.
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01/2016 – OVER 60 KILLED IN DAMASCUS’S ZAYNAB SHRINE BLAST   
01/2016 – 2 SUICIDE BOMBERS ATTACKED A MOSQUE IN EASTERN SAUDIA  
12/2015 – YET ANOTHER NEW RIFT IN THE MIDDLE EAST  
10/2015 – THE SYRIAN WAR TURNS GLOBAL 


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