Lebanon downplays Saudi $3bn donation, backs Hezbollah role

Lebanon downplays Saudi $3bn donation, backs Hezbollah role
Tue Jan 7, 2014 09:12:38

Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour has downplayed a $3 billion Saudi Arabia pledge to buy weapons from France to help support the Lebanese Army, saying the grant was insufficient to improve the military’s defense capabilities.

“The donation is not enough to bolster Lebanon's defense system,” Mansour complained on Monday, noting the Israeli army’s $17 billion annual budget.

"The [Lebanese] Army is currently not able to be strong without the resistance [Hezbollah] at its side," said Mansour, a minister in the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition.

"The weapons of the resistance can only be withdrawn when a defense strategy for Lebanon is agreed upon by all rivals," Mansour, speaking to a local radio station, warned.

Mansour also described as a “blow to justice” the death of Majed al-Majed, who was the head of an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group that claimed responsibility for the recent attack against Iran’s Embassy in Beirut.

“The death of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades’ leader Majed al-Majed was a blow to justice as gone with him is the plot he wanted to implement via his group inside and outside Lebanon," he said.

Majed died Saturday at Lebanon's military hospital in the Beirut neighborhood of Badaro.

He headed the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, the group which claimed responsibility for the double suicide bombing outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Nov. 19.

Majed, who had travelled to Lebanon to undergo kidney dialysis, was on Saudi Arabia’s list of 85 most-wanted for links to Al-Qaeda.

He was arrested by the Lebanese Army on Dec. 26 in the Mount Lebanon area of Hazmieh.

BA/BA

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