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Saudi plan to hit Lebanon with sanctions

Dec 06

Saudi is trying to exert pressure on Lebanon by accusing its banks of being run by Iran.

At the third Rome MED – Mediterranean Dialogues, which ran between 30 November and 2 December, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said: “It is easy to perceive Iran’s negative influence everywhere in the whole region.”

The Lebanese banking sector has been quick to respond to the accusations with former head of the Association of Lebanon Banks, François Bassil, stating that “local banks are committed to international laws, especially those related to money laundering and financing terrorism”. He stressed that “random accusations can never be accepted.”

This is not the first time Saudi Arabia has threatened Lebanon economically. Political sources revealed that a few days ago the Kingdom intended to impose sanctions on Beirut, as it did on Qatar.

Lebanese economists stressed that the withdrawal of Gulf deposits will not be as harmful for the Lebanese banking sector as the Kingdom thinks it will be, especially since the total amount of Gulf money in Lebanese banks does not exceed 2.5 per cent of the total sums deposited, about $160 billion.

On 4 November, Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address from Saudi Arabia, accusing Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing “sedition” in the region and “meddling” in Arab affairs.

He also hinted at an alleged plot to assassinate him.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun did not accept Hariri’s resignation, accusing Saudi Arabia of holding him in Riyadh and forcing him to step down. Hariri eventually returned to Beirut on 22 November and postponed his resignation.

middleeastmonitor