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Where did the Saudi Aid to Lebanon Go? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It appears that Mr. Nabih Berri is trying to shine the media spotlight on questions surrounding Saudi aid for the state of Lebanon, particularly the aid Riyadh gave to the Lebanese people after the July 2006 War against Israeli courtesy of Hezbollah.

Mr. Berri claims that Saudi money has been withheld from Southern Lebanon, and instead was distributed in other areas, forcing the Information Office of the Lebanese Prime Minister to respond and correct Mr. Berri by quoting accurate official figures.

Let’s be clear, Saudi funds have gone to those who need it most, and not to media agencies engineering propaganda campaigns to humiliate the Lebanese. It’s strange that Mr. Berri is so concerned about Saudi aid, especially when you consider the words of his ally Hassan Nasrallah’s during the 2006 war when he stated ‘We do not need your money’ because we have secured ‘pure money’!

Despite all of this, Saudi aid went to villages in Southern Lebanon, as well as other areas that required it; this was explained clearly in a detailed report to the Lebanese government two days ago. There are two issues surrounding Mr. Berri’s claim that deserve to be discussed further. Firstly, it is normal for Saudi aid to Lebanon to be misrepresented in this manner for the simple reason that Saudi money goes to those who need it most, and not, as I said before, to the media, and certainly not on political poster campaigns in Beirut and its suburbs.

Mr. Berri claims that Kingdom withheld funds to Southern Lebanon, but in reality Saudi funds have been used to rebuild 220 villages out of 323 villages in all of Lebanon, and not just the ‘five villages more or less’ which he claims. And not to mention the funds used for building bridges and roads, in addition to Saudi Arabia fulfilling its normal international obligations to the country.

And remember this aid was delivered swiftly and without delay, since it did not have to pass Hassan Nasrallah’s “purity” test.

The Saudi aid is sincere, and has been from day one, for the support of all of Lebanon, there are those who believe the propaganda, and this is nothing but a pipe dream, and when we discuss this so-called ‘pure money’ bear in mind that the most that can come of it are buildings no stronger than a spider’s web.

The second issue regarding Mr. Nabih Berri’s claim that Saudi aid is being redirected from Southern Lebanon to other areas, which implies that the Lebanese government itself is preventing aid reaching the Shiites in the South, to the benefit of the Sunnis.

This particular conclusion is an attack on the ‘Sunni’ Lebanese government, and portrays Saudi Arabia as helping one sect at the expense of another, instead of helping Lebanon as a whole. This is a fabrication! Since the Taif agreement Riyadh has been even-handed with all sects, treating them equally, even those who, in my opinion, do not deserve it, particularly the Iranian Hezbollah!

When the late Prime Minister Rafik Al Hariri had good relations with Hezbollah before his assassination, Saudi Arabia neither blamed nor boycotted his administration, because it was eager for the unity of all of Lebanon. Of course Riyadh and Mr. Berri find themselves taking different positions on this issue, since Mr. Berri believes the “opposition” has a right to receive external support, and by this of course he means Iran’s support of Hezbollah.

And why not? Nasrallah is proud of his connection to the Iranian Wilayat Al Faqih!

The real wonder in all this are those who are critical of the Lebanese government’s distribution of foreign aid, but ignore the adventurers responsible for the death toll of 1200 Lebanese and five billion dollars in damages!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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