Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq prioritized the need “to preserve Lebanon and the Lebanese people during the period of transition” the region is passing through, while highlighting the positive role Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates play in Lebanon.
He said during a commemoration held in his honor on Sunday: “Our loyalty is first and foremost to Lebanon and our Arabism is constant and firm. No one, neither the takfiris nor the divisionists, can affect this.”
He described Saudi Arabia and the UAE as “examples of security, stability and good”, saying negative stances “will not affect them or their positions.”
“The whole region is passing through a transition phase and it could take three years for stability to be restored. In the meantime, we could either protect our people, cities, interests, and gains through calm and proper management or seek to turn the table and cause destruction, which is very easy,” Mashnouq continued.
“Protecting ourselves at this stage allows us to remain at the table when the outcome of the developments begins to emerge,” explained the minister.
Addressing campaigns against Prime Minister Saad Hariri that allege that he is seeking to trade the premiership for a parliamentary electoral law that is based on proportionality, he commented: “Such claims are silly and we do not accept them or recognize them.”
“We will not trade Hariri with anything in the country because his leadership is firm and deserved. It was proven in the elections.”
On Lebanon’s ties with Arab countries, Mashnouq said: “You hear a lot about countries that bring good to Lebanon. They are Saudi Arabia, which is the main protector of Arabism in religion and politics and the country of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and the UAE, where in Abu Dhabi alone there are some 60,000 Lebanese, who are thriving.”
“This is the UAE of Sheikh Zayed and Arabism. Today, with the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the pioneer of Arab political initiative, nothing will influence the stances of the UAE and it will continue to protect the Lebanese.”
Mashnouq revealed that former Qatari deputy PM Sheikh Abdullah Hamad al-Atiya will arrive in Lebanon soon, hoping that his visit will pave the way for more Arabs to come to Lebanon.