Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Q & A with New Saudi Envoy to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asseri | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Q) You have recently arrived in Beirut. What is your opinion on the situation in Lebanon in general?

A) Perhaps the Lebanese situation is the most dynamic in the region. It is largely important and delicate. It is known that Lebanon went through a long war and it is now moving toward a new phase of peace, dialogue, reconstruction, and building of institutions. There may be obstacles on its path but we hope that all the sides have the good will and patriotic spirit to act in accordance with the interests of this cherished country.

Q) What is your “action plan” in your new post?

A) The Saudi Embassy in Beirut is the home of all the Lebanese brothers from all factions. This is how it was and this is how it will remain. We operate in accordance with a fraternal spirit for we consider Lebanon our second home. God willing, we will do our utmost to strengthen the relations between our two countries and peoples. We will also do our best to offer the best services to our brother Lebanese and to the Saudi citizens living in Lebanon or visiting it.

Q) How much do you know about the complex Lebanese situation?

A) I prefer to use a “more positive word” than the word complex and say that it is a pluralistic situation. Lebanon needs to profit from this rich political, ideological, and cultural diversity because it constitutes a unique model. We have to view the Lebanese situation from a new angle by capitalizing on this unique diversity and producing a new reality based on mutual respect, dialogue, interaction, and sharing of responsibility among all the currents in Lebanon’s society. As a diplomat that is following upon regional and international developments, my knowledge about the situation in Lebanon is good.

Q) The Lebanese are anticipating parliamentary elections tomorrow (7 June). How does the kingdom view this event?

A) The parliamentary elections are one of the manifestations of democracy that is deep-rooted in Lebanon. The brother Lebanese are up to this occasion and they will be exercising this democratic right in deeds and not just in words. The kingdom views the elections as a purely internal Lebanese affair. The kingdom hopes that these elections will build for a new phase of political cooperation among all the sides so that the comprehensive reform workshop would be launched and Lebanon would return to be the meeting place of various civilizations.

Q) Does the kingdom have any “favorite” candidates in these elections? Will it intervene or “hope” for the victory of one specific group, as it is accused by certain parties in Lebanon?

A) The kingdom is equidistant from all the sides. Its main concern is Lebanon’s interests, unity, and stability rather than the interests of any particular faction. The kingdom also respects the options of the Lebanese people and does not interfere at all in this affair. What is being said in this regard are words with no basis. Perhaps they are intended to mislead or influence the voters.

Q) Can the outcome of the elections affect Saudi-Lebanese cooperation or will we continue to see Saudi support for Lebanon and its issues regardless of any domestic development?

A) What distinguishes the Saudi-Lebanese relationship is that it is a relationship between people. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, the kingdom will continue to stand alongside Lebanon and its people. These are the instructions of King Abdullah Bin-Abdulaziz, the custodian of the two holy shrines, may God protect him. The kingdom will cooperate with all the sides and will continue its cooperation with all the political points of reference because Lebanese-Saudi relations are not dependent on a specific political circumstance or a specific turning point. They are deep fraternal relations that are well entrenched in history. God willing, these relations will remain so in the future. The kingdom’s support for Lebanon and all its issues is a brotherly patriotic duty that we are proud to perform.

Q) Is it true what is being said about a Saudi-Syrian cooperation to keep the situation in Lebanon under control before, during, and after the elections?

A) The decision made by King Abdullah Bin-Abdulaziz, the custodian of the two holy shrines, may God protect him, to open a new page with the brother Syrians stems from a sincere will, a wise vision, and a genuine wish to solve problems and bring viewpoints closer together. This point is being followed by officials in the two countries and it is moving forward well. No doubt, it will have a positive impact on the Lebanese arena, God willing.

Q) The kingdom is extending the Lebanese state andpeople a lot of assistance. Is the kingdom also playing a political and diplomatic role on the regional and international levels to assist Lebanon?

A) The kingdom will not begrudge any effort so that Lebanon would enjoy stability, security, and prosperity. It is exerting many efforts with the big powers and the regional countries concerned with Lebanese affairs in order to reach such goals. I would not be revealing a secret when I say that the Lebanese file is always present during the meetings that the custodian of the two holy shrines, may God protect him, holds with international officials and in the contacts of Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. I believe that the brother Lebanese are also exerting the same efforts and seeking to distance themselves from tension and narrow wrangling and moving toward thorough dialogue in order to find solutions to the pending problems and taking Lebanon to a better state of affairs. The custodian of the two holy shrines, may God protect him, hopes to see a safe, secure, and stable Lebanon as well as political cohesion and national reconciliation in order to be able to confront all the challenges.