Often enough, circulating reports have focused on the perception of Hassan Diab’s new government to the international community, the International Support Group for Lebanon, the United Nations, major powers, and even international organizations.
However, the regional lens tends to be a bit underexplored, considering the fact that Lebanon’s current Cabinet carries quite a bit of political and regional implications amid allegations that it was almost entirely Iran-Hezbollah-backed.
For decades now, Gulf Arab states have sent funding into Lebanon’s fragile economy. However, Lebanon’s wealthy regional neighbors are not so pleased about the rising influence of their “rival” Iran’s ally Hezbollah.
They evidently seem unwilling to assist Lebanon which Cabinet and Parliament are currently tainted with Hezbollah’s strong political upper hand.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab, whose Cabinet took office one month ago with the open backing of the Shiite Hezbollah movement and its local and regional supporters, had said that his first trip abroad would be to the Arab region, particularly the Sunni-dominated Gulf states.
However, at this stage, he is not only unlikely to be received warmly but also needs to grapple with the fact that the government he has formed is missing significant factions of Lebanon’s political demographics.
To date, the Arab Gulf states have not only abstained from publically commenting on the formation of Lebanon’s new Cabinet, its financial crisis, or their willingness to assist Lebanon’s economic downfall, but they have also refrained from extending any formal invitation to Diab since his appointment.
Regional sources have attributed the disconnection of the Gulf region from the Lebanese financial crisis to Hezbollah’s strong grip on power, as well as its implementation of an Iranian foreign policy agenda.
Ahmad Jaralah, the editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyasa, states in his article on Diab that the Arab Gulf states want Diab to know that he is “unwelcome.” And this is not a good sign at all.
Saudi Arabian Columnist Tariq al-Hamid wrote in the Okaz daily: “Why is it now demanded from the international community and the Gulf to support Lebanon without demanding the same of Iran which got Lebanon into this situation?”
Hezbollah and its allies, including President Michel Aoun, nominated Hassan Diab for Premier after efforts had failed to strike a deal with Hariri, the country’s main Sunni leader, and overall regional and international “ally.”
Foreign donors publically expressed that any form of support from the international community, as well as the International Support Group for Lebanon, strongly depends on the implementation of overdue reforms.
Not too sure if sarcastically at this point, Emirati Political Analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdullah has publically said that Beirut should ask its backers in Iran for help with its economic downfall. He tweeted: “The gates of the Gulf capitals are still closed.”
With Lebanon’s heavy reliance on aid from major powers to counter this Gulf reality, it is looking like the “painful steps” we have been hearing all well will be ones on a trail all the way to Europe – as the United States has also condemned Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon’s current government and the country’s politics overall.