Lebanon: Strained Ties

JFIF;CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 80 C   %# , #&')*)-0-(0%()(C   ((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((( " }!1AQa"q2#BR$3br %&'()*456789:CDEFGHIJSTUVWXYZcdefghijstuvwxyz w!1AQaq"2B #3Rbr $4%&'()*56789:CDEFGHIJSTUVWXYZcdefghijstuvwxyz ?z(@(((((? ˤ?1k2h)gX]M* }' ~U3WHqqMZLnIi1RTr9pC㇄uU'K_1zU}QjH?sn;+öF&9m>?wORqU;?;-JwTZ:XI6fay=+?$2dIk`gW^C6Ib=Sy,t'XDŤq_z8KT8q\goAJY>ᯝ>I<%tU/vyauݾ8xTO?aʬ)ƜbxOį( ?{h-ɛ8 / }q?j0)uP 6 )|Ojğ%x񟼿k]*λٳb:xOGOIz&A~9xWhzUOW᛭2HdkqH>߁&$kQqSZ\wX5=Rȑ= b }FPd 0OwR;+mWkL,FFRAÿKĎ &+;=.aHg%A!#wr-;. ʠ°|5I#.,g$C͌x~F'6D5epQ^2ICz94_ CF.5@0ZG淤`'y֭611{9?Vk|uoW/g!tʰF̲B݇+WOFqQk7ki3}I@=@J:(IQOWVNR FEqOWç4ߌ|q-2SN^Es/9s;ώN?kW&mKڝuŬHξqO-:q / oE|^c?tFW[%Tc0ymFSUَ qU)3~w)Z赯_?)8%k#槧Eʁ|(#,U+hvBt}N^gY5k>xM~]j=2cyK Ȯfo,AWV eΝ\\V}4?@7Y_חo/tMQʨwIgk zx5J3{3Us+.Kst>u i9pV wƾ4Qנ|#7TMCΓK_#8~^; i<#Nz3mV NF{0kOx~ xJM܏[AxxWyjo>/׌m.4c 񞠐{G\x֣?z.ʕXs)j_Y?Jw࿍ɪ`\y1Gz. wRqVX5'ZN15קII~\7zkwq'"dj+o?_??wO*T K3gSm+o毊:}^O;{XF~E?׺u/Ux-b_񖧪Xo5éM + ʣ罭ʋPΛ~{M}LtW EcoǩbSlse? ŸUaF1/Z)NA%Q#VRi5G r}+˫P2Qg(+ ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( (:4iQ  OAM/ HC,[)+wZ?—oWG.^/#kG5? _lmm̏B[>"vALRĒå_n0=xcZJ?+wIRU-1Xw\7oQ@}G_+흢՗fG+kc`WE#(~1ݥAgiqq:Y"9f7_ 'W|^^կ/tbq>UaƬyvO ;b&v:"׷~ӊ?+pk U֦^XvKY]FYa ޹j 'W|t_(OʼnʅGU|7}awa({ih=yt}RN@̧3!zwAƭ*c% 1mȧS*woR7u:>zW[E!Q޹?e_dbhu^zS[C4e%$S ⿅>bv4Jh9Q>3X61Y%ϔ? +σu?jBQPI AsXNEtyҋQF jյ24'O4NqvS*N-Y,nwLd=jŖZ=ͭ@G53l漹H-+*6i,w ܻ)>[.WkB-]ү⻺hǖ䏛##,u oe b B|NjW1̘ܧFj柠ꚍ愒7#SIԂ\ njfZլY)R]nXHYnr?:oNE{+1h}ֲ^ҝi7ڣ8y`3ө羄9_ڔh$H  UKEtKI!G;COUiP[f6C$ˑ_Z4*Tk$~Q< NnWJڲh$2p}28Dnݵ[Ԏxi{h[vm-ZӴNfE]F:t5IDbuJqn.Wki}֧p`.@~W/owd4)9enkhCEl[cZ)HPy6_jO 2YHLHw)@Q25?M&+tK]tG Ƴ/fk( VFvz j9j:s(kjeXeÅ'_Mo1!yxߴ3өV29gruZ}>q:fj< T5Շ{YܣEi^h:F[ 1`8J3W2acs\{8Y[hAZOcrq4S V~GJ9~[>I[QR[uq^iGsZ}mWqӧǶXAL# KesW/|bm&[?[mSc7QO0GrW׭7V v{#2O]t$~]ɧ$p5X+WV̞Gy4Peu~uKM/u9,-wA @jh4ڒi4)Wm4˩mmIppZ-,w;k$BL% GQ֥1X2C֓Mo%왏EkxgYI"K3^z{;f0؎r3څZHN֭2~G<BMIĸQEB ( ( (s@Q@Q@(aEPEPEPZ~Hbv+O*]#!ыSScďJ~ kxcW1-M ΫZA\ŭ:VYiqw(diձ"_)M'8Ϧڃ_z? W5zÏ@7]S>$Ҭt{X^FۅkX|O|R7y:Z2iך}i2'br_C4A\م(Rk*JIJNCp8Yd=j-5zw 3^unO7\Oa:~ObE W-zǭ\a^?o!oo*ZSh$gd 6;Tpu]3ϩ[I^nǢ~R L%@ҵG1㋟ +tג;?Nsx{7\i^#P_z1m_C[|4xWEz/w%#y 5Ư2F|aa^cCj l?1jp3?AcbZߪihr%Đ2,׊_FoэYaVRSWVtpM> ִlCWl+ni|Kgo Y"z+дf, c`2ιKK6 %$}*$g4j8U) @@K0g8:Z*8;+)9ԒoDc T}fa=,A1FyM}Rؔ&9x 3VXxʓڲ"J#;/|ciqI~Azt(T[mttJaDMa5V}ZPmR NpH?\.`RM1azڊTk]L+8f6zh7Wk*8KiDlz+duG\|;jS^˯Gc*@T`& hMC$5j){t7M¼~f'}pCu+Wemztn6Gx}4-2h5s4qGq=VMYl' 1bCriTj~jSiU<Fb0u>7Za@3Rҿ4Kwdf":f[X5n>`ڄpIFJ/V9F5W-F++ `@o=nS}2d#+N6^E"H`2 ˓Cn54{.3%x8=:ʜvj'9nSi /mP"[ M8"O&2mwEj~ aY~oy~ÐZ(3iͩRqO^] YOWnd 3ȬYҮoof 8giڕu}m5BO0Ev${R:"[BNGgy$t>t۩%۔:{R'k'-M.s3@Y%`E׸^O_<.9V s]XH5 RWsǣv0_RV?AF}R)fP"!Z7#t=ORPu c䚋S6e.ԓ ecQXAUvn#iF/j2/L]H<$33?j6ZM$!({)޵xOPEH !5x;P[J,N{9ͥצRyuP$M+m x*[qgrnmW\&&:hȣJv9V5 49=e_rml3i<<+vko0U~.\-Z[=BQqPct<g+xH'*RI.u* wsLFo%u\Cn2!Uw ϠEXʒtʧ.NHwy6̒vǭSz`kyp!7d:cbͶ_$`ܤs܃bLR6Rd>*gNJ3BQsBME_CYW,i*R9XEcm,DU*xzfP7S!@!Ϡj/3ݺmi 5o?(W&P_R'R@)l+VIFH#*j6eh6vv cQܓ׽Zወ&0YҁʀW8\S_6콍qP7~$h扂 J|kOm:KȤ6M# zҕ&GY5W5^wtoXix;Rd܃⼄t@Ƨi5{ȒPqqkJFQNmsFXZ((P/J>)jw7MCMɻGƒȠF:_)IEu>r䋓uU|hoׄm]\cj:|:fH3z^2ڰkCͩSl9:^+{W? Pzx4"cr:68T6iU 'papY݊}]/sƺiı?_"|K!nJFNMzLsbTmcg_4?u:D\%5yHri?+^JHz5V1DD [&`5yxj٫Fm_C_٪_k:SlHb?^&{=\j>p?o1zwo&o?="R BYz_&tF5tWsaz ž-ZcWO_FkgэFUy&fR4m"^o+D1ڪWտ37| 7I (әM*\Y˗AݎU?ROLu{.-^6\yd[vfR4KhԜWZ~`gkGX!^MV{mE*r9ltǽv8&<%T<@n$X@ջ Z|6-H=:u UA?t;(dMovR?}k3⛴z$lU2è!"\RiiyoS$Y{3Oz.ygV Of͏ls\_ٯzp~biʵ},-5drK4he!r3/xj^i-?)3=jk74bkib(쐙` b|-麦A:ۊc*:.OO-)T_{=Z& V6! k7þ^m"k|ol9/[B%DrH8=?GD D,qT4kRRݓaUSyn&#;&eA'RT6m'tyg9 J>"RoFϭs?jooGVP[[3T9=ahMޱsGY KuR\[K c ?jw_ WPk}UֹV,%gxNOS:)7eqJ1ExZS"[fd~@?&}kPcm8@zJ\ek|zȻQijxn_j3+#k?ϖWݥou7sm0]fQ 1q? Z][3!}+{|>I3ܖv*2k-gљ|8׬j[y TiFFi~ 5->)z?ʫkԴ{cs:%'o+_R}ck ]LJ:6{U]ydӯnѴq-sYU\/ki{KgyX='MA cRfxzÜK!^-?C}b첪aps=몾%ҭCӓynW Pủs~;·g;7-XˑZ~*GTO@rqӚVOv?TM^u8_CZ5͹՗8q׏z>c^ԟoVfW->{ЅO46@s+4Ф5P{ }jkSZiS94s_ޝaqo<;qn:Uw*1[F>a*íB}KWWLZI!?@7 3[ZM.-5F2kғzRѨ<-&VRׁ;ku/ ?ڭDϖsҷzP#][!A` qMXn m۸7cn=1jի&ҲLR曻w>4ArsۊT%5@9L}ZBr+}63\x,OSG:I_Vœ]tyM}q5zWq><#|+75C:BKhк K8ۋG$dϦsנ&لWS.$IǠ/YKL1XS9UqڦB߯CMyybݍqF`q]ߊlju[o8]3*-Z h|$vRyk9Dqqvй`KG/2fXT0ɪ:ƃqʫ1WG/Cv? k92K@ żxqM.ug"O..S?yk5*nVc(RTyL;UvwD 1Lh1MW%\u*-ZbtOҔB {Sզ$qEn%bUh!(`QAaEP(M+Ifp ԁydRlvN J#ɧL6Rjhemԛ}ǕAJb Jڦ Ի} xq`S0&CUX>VW1͌Ŏ;WIF0|T?)$kú߂u=?Nn <\E'14**n/urJKc@ tǥ}3>tn+߇?!+L{W~ }7zE#8O) Zs(Jq*ӌ%''mPDT#3$I'|!A_'G-_gW וuӕJd@?"OosDV?kx?O&|!xIշM_z'iѲX] $7 bkm:QUd"G=^_6yF##hkomC?謟ln03a>߉N8?GFIE-Lk:]MeJ0íy|ѸBanZѾ+x[QPd>w(T6Lxnm]Alt2+ . $5j InX PI+Y]9 QcKT/ǧ^+Vk8c6Z^ra 7?ZҎi].슸Tcds>2[^'5CL`A /?m?K[W&4Yj7yN˱GJۢ< DM^+W{|f9K^(OuVelƙ~sER/Mtu+{/ŨN۬(68E;Z@Q\cQ+ocuSV3p·&miRTiluʜc#[x\^rc铁W)W8沩RNOK]dBS,,\i2*J* &]xO-kUSi]R )aЊ ɡa >XgT嶝4&8]N WB5$޵I+ ?^pb" ][BNwﴍ{Jd[#@q֙5{=s\d!lW,aR} mM.dW(BgYe.xd}j5p,nQQBހCgndun0Oze:WW,ǧNz֌p:gִD0ԏQvQEHCT Fi7<Ԁm4y'h'N~URb02i76(KVt<4iu^e{党0uoAW >QIIQ,W } P*2Jҭ Nn튧aJq{8bRZ(H9))6ޝIJjd4%Q4ؔXi|=i|̊O)X/ee$ԊĜjJ  n] :Vx8vd Hih4%&iԇbEaEPM#4+م#)Ԕ6E&) }Y^z\ +ao"uvUʳ#( ;5XZOF2ه_^NaFYtz:u=F&:XHz 7h˞+>m1Z54 &rj̣fH.i y$X H{qy5ZsgV|Z6xدҋڜW^F5Xqɸ䅦*pkj,;Vy!;b4@UjS]XXn\)$ ǰpj%/:D *yB:խsF>Las/b#$|?˃+t;sd\7fR3 H#>+pzR2xnzbZ#ENބU)J#ֈ=魏l@Ҷ,?},ƣo^ ]mm#]ϰ>J׆=G<?9pp/ PkB_]<<@l{Gu~G  z0M_Í[I}?pVĎ~ ?ћCvUJ/۽E^ٔ! w^5x]>?V>a cx'V~?г2YA@/L I] ߏ>šLv_w?yxOS!'8Z)-g%LzU[{vmۏoRq!#=3Upbme b!sX uKjr hڼhy>Tc^Q/j6&Hapέ MqqNNkꩅʔ㡹g "\\D-#H t DJf@zcowƇSԵlF82ʠO'JYhm[~?~ ˩mT[d#3#?Eo;42=nm2ي=8|[Hi4m/n6-<#}6M^Lǡ688H튃H.giBNn'$E/x♣:A܄==O7Ko/_xDpxCR}E)n?cRXjo)5?-+08?mZ Je xami42,fRC o*`i }{B-mfn&mħpy/ı^"6?^%=Oq6v0\CVrgބ%~uCA^%m ~b(3ĶnUtzsty>!ҽl[KrBi<~ xKM6DgZGpx?U}yN 66s_O*-`zc3J0q$nZ]/vVL8;F\TJOA~>nCT\[)mU_U?ֱ$_.GG 2z^2 #k=ȦG4s$Ő0¸(Mhւ~Ur:m{ cײͧZnĖ͞UZM"A֡s]4*oG? Ode8r8HÌ֩25 &51V'Tu#6"HÚab#`OҘԸ8~\ mJi1BL u! R@Qڊ)1KE0V%uI.^VxĎ(pHG\HȱƥУ&#ÖfJu178<&ĪxOfgQsֈ=&n`i%h ;v:(?9 eAJ F}pWoJӄD[n㊔Ged ɟZai|4TFd8}j?ݷ 2ͿlNGeֽ*7,ztQ! 9[1G!1ԇsIOaҗxVE!b]ޤWC9$ispGlo>Z&юH=?2hLUZp"7b@alHg**<iŝ0tp?wcqKz.Fm 9 U઀sGGvPO"gqw ,o8Q:SE^CͼOv9?Zh27ҤsO<9݀oI=I^+u^|q&9}kؘ6F穯&ijnp>Rǚn֛g*S("Uu"25]2ǎ:HV_Yķ40ƒ(=B9>_OOZЬG F5q(,/Vփul8( 0*x?qŬǒ!LTvyAOS<͇w@^G)cxg_JwFz ظ,ǑS#,ç84 f-"n %2OrOJYom.nan4$p>+ ?@瞔b1Q̷ɋW-;7 UcӞj궇7Wȱ++?^+a]߁or ihFmrB?yH̽!l2#VB68B6Cg \1A1MnU_@sB^F%hGgOX6A=_aS>`PpB@P3P:ÌY!8 i F>$ ͏r/ 삭 67S[CS׽CVMDFXGԢhXFdrOJT `4EY `bSlVWe#0TnݒQњ3^I>bN=2jjK28!5sXڥ#Yh~ 5#䛏a ~5\i@ӕrF)ii~* *j@jj\Զ]`ԓ]UBU+HSX%v[v&m5=-96 '(`>k^N^d{*Em:l uFNz0ˉ%jl $mM=",Zh{,Oz ~Pɸ0JT2u4976M*4SzU W#9_CKa(PVe8ѓfux5oI\.c*JaEsڮ dB/BYd좠!s@moJb=b qWQB9SO9 y6$ unw(U\Œ3$sUIkYwbl$q]*WG;FyH2[1"s֑dKDC"Pȸj^Kt(Vef*b0qM jb 2aҘEP{.9}n)B)1R~RwEP['4`Sq@uG\P߃mEλ }ν'B{j'| O567sF-=.Nj+--d<$@8jhuR譬 C$|đݛ SOJm-ιBaԱAd5˟ xH f>Aj-?L%A*rswG?;k;xK Rv+C\FaI]VBd&ԔY-y|#݉ɮ9|-5 *@.J2-KT2S,}$~M!F:V+r9${RDŷ{}G46B1J9 ZLzmpGr*V$qtn]Њb_(_/h#{{oWֺѬ4L/iF _CtHb|ۀ}N+[(+{COmGiO̜BpUrk )OCi}=sܖ%2dI$NM؝ŸN$׉uaؐ'ޯGWX&TUxrꎎO*8mR"dDیI4e,IÒYIh1&!AI߇@1}ҮBA2mb!wncv J?:V@N:SWvmɩ[UHcqJm0܌U6Bh͂0yj^/=B<Өk<<tf۞q@Ǒ5r'*u>K u(g TI!E+~RrxX{eZ^h3Ua 3` @[ABȢ! Wm!qmI!`q6HqG@n' 5"y⤷FqRV '>O<ִ~z[{o@RJ# ޷5OhS,D Wz"~ 1ŝ3W16? VuMA035JV Wd;7kN %'=+PSHP̸sִTJwzqlr@Un!@l9 1ҼXs9'Uw^;UV;WT%8BWBh*EzUW$ⵋqnT:9m9LEe3q9)px\V5]qZ̫*PHUj&;T4„THSЖ@ÊaTךi@EC)0=)Bî)I%MLo X%ɷ}'65[ku_,Ё8++կ *>wKp {` WϚ_ؚ:i"(A?Nuomp>oʡQnMͥ"4ʏTy?(Ij90|^^ėx4w1]cAU$QS d݄zvi\M8ݜn:zVHkgU]XB~vwS|RH Iw@ja^OxS9} Ч _oxql]HW(jMw^ ״}J‹Omp3#Pgb(Rp,f0 piǫ O>n'A^i%ħs[YGC|0);"F{|&0zt՝46xyn.Rt +#6Ae;G`q^[ܧfA@?zÿĶ)oqlFܭ=3k̪$C kM{Qn0aּ6#DQ8*J]>s>*|_f|ҙRf88bRуJրSSXBhE!椅77'j{vYgQU*69 y5aPгHp3Ҳ.|ÊN%seg"-r ܰ]$QڷAbu/C*˶Y70#=ǠQ'Yu+6)| u'cxIܢs a֩[?-oOёY ҵdy\ߕBdՙXJ|ԭ1徆+d?) ZA gюiJ-pRvϽ5XdSF@=P2~SS%Қܚ*Ja犰Wq֨d0撘} 𝸟_ T&CUd+Ef(IOgvԽ"18&0AR Q#} Iܑ)v_pg/.j:Y'F?7T[?- p9 %|s i QIekwlZ 6)"3dbNH<{\"{91o I.a˰cHҮWKygb Ҍy"0'cԾY565oX5Ԭb9Ui(W $Y}n3'vXHSX.; LY*;֒B7!bҞ4iW^MPG(f.*=q޵E6ҰDEz^xwQ? 4Rx7%p3_JK>A=O$-@jqAFoʷ A ֶ0C2AM:Q;~K&f3ڽ#] Λ-/3HJ=zBO )e4Q[ӵK {V4gaCq}:%΅J뼏GJo 00%zgφ= mEE9YRVMerκτ~³jsTm~u~F &uU1(TƇYiWۤBT&N8jw+F+y$,ǧr*+H<7\9H&VjhXP"-g!կ5̭b#TVc5.-i$g$]7TدҶn *qPg;QwJSk]J ق3OXU9X"-Ub}͎qN[,S.mj!#N E6&̙(c`P+fuʐc5D/"Ў^ :ǿo`͇UaށXK5bNX495}fIAT ke$̜^[sW UI82mbuSvg@0PE8SzWxJ#D ǯ";G^c)(a+8-EJ%S`I+pFkK$C#yuW] N@vVz% Tߞg¾NjӷxJUyGB!c.0r=;̤5pzzU,\;# G! QOi"m[VMҽ?N ognV: P;&;oDnuYbe`NeDR$Qc튯U2uɺ֥R;G۝f>\}qYng{yElfɬb ļnmJ TY|e?an01z|q>N.8O?JAaKmZe^62khb-\&TacK)q6w'ذv@:|pFU86Ĭ )'t&e W.|F⢬ 1ڣhXF܁ LIX(Ȥ}j=$+ԠKԟ17Rdomʲxgs+D~2'i^ò ) LZXU۱>e3o{f_Wq'.!ZϸqF' ׸׏NN11Tc$9OiՅAp˿E!#mlF%V o>߭.k,;G w$=pkf#e>xc``iiH< W{-GP25P&e8qں{t[iѨ<ԃM=\J%Q-YEF.+942Ï~`Hv lӯ/Z yA?Ê?]2CUA' C 6;Y"mdi98#]Q73xH]3A 1Y͹kgY\X>NGb܂8gQLSTO6*чNl j@"O^Vp<6؛(+gj8>ƨC7mp<6҄iY$#nxQմđwޘy&qw`9TPZy'd/9`H C؟zuj9f]\$jB] v xom!v $lrc[. QHm>vf+Ѯcӥ`Ev;zvM[+yl.b x>M驒rMnkKyGA޳~xCW.i!G4MLw8ϠSMA# hH?'fTzO* [?@j|?\O1?K}G˃ǯPF _PJo/6+W!Qthʽ5V7SOZ{sWIiGJ\f))P+8)94 A҃@ ZAQ@u@@8#ZaTy-1YZr0';CZT3Iuu`U, P[0;V;(,jYqQcQ7'4wJ`Luɧa&9Afu5lXˏ2E|ݍ_.i1CqHҾey5V"Ê֚4;J[pXdVBsVJ\LT2OG m@ӈp%1Uiz^` =vOJCү3XxsG.xr;ېOJO!z!}(g T<3pMV:G"3׬+* P,O+a;eB 8 ~j1 wU*#:쿭vDQGf/=O)V7qeؙnujx-[FeRTPRNJ|w ǪL2_H?%Ekys:(u 6mfrգxИi0.|i$h. ְM*ep?!Vά|eqoNx9OXj6}=Eԣ1Tڶgl:] aPs:y}Iyv+EWj(nR^GnѲ=tɉhmW5ϥZK.n0F`i4h+$v!>abgR|Ms1%lu[fمMnPV۩̭ EtkN{Z&dSrqjS2_ⷆks ! QnDcmOrE!\[IZ:^syui /t3lNҼxsNvn\!8;8kt>- m%;XU< (_Xў˩0:|5$ǥtdzQ_7܎)c3.F욚Xڪ0lH-Z[[[e[v  ~Y~|UV Ji9~*7̂IrqrFeL,8ȑƸ߲xx ֥A՛^11xQ0L1R`la8d.'v=dɜtȪ =}Y9 3cNGk>v m$9cW_)R7jvi z'}iԝI( %:@ (GJ3Q׊LO J\P[4 B jK9*M*#6ƴЭqxFqY$mol֤mlF$h63JmHɎ8̎V4Ka[Vnx'Ȩ/@*;XHe<g|ƚ8ZӪݩE27s_0{xZ2I(L:R(Oǵ )NM.zqN)Ā()r2*6`=h>Z79Q}ERLq׬t5jrRs\ևyas]}#WDJ\&rU ?ֱ瑲A8sZ#s]|ԏ n2lI\OZ${RNK\R搜 2cU >sґI4=7w>(4tǧAZ`_u] sD ğj,Is}$+:}YF0zWY8;GP >,gXv$ u0Q=nb8l5^D%,R({{V 2g5weT.cS3N1om*g8«I11 ݀vjkJ46;+tr)ӵT q=\yq.KI'ׯx<>gvSs <0˵yíCz=6RL"*B `c1^ 1$1[aFQm`-'om"{dtH<ְۜEgJny)m|k"O8࿈ч1B%e=3uM1jf nت{ZV>Ѭ w,Nrv9ẉܣʑ]U@zJ#s})U$g*I9qW|l8$ٳnJ@%n)ҭePO6LmRK@ GQ5gºޟc\ xfZEZk [VzE*5zT2OB/85`֦db~cLLhW?ZJc/4e\aYkHW ]PiAxck{-J:4xGgEa%{"/ 1nhphW䒻>M" 1e#ɰkAͫKkrڤyʍ`Ieߕz֟m~: k{s\V:dWۄe}zr=־[ӍDq8itTe6FYnvjeNN9+^LI7!2(9ևQ_q WVf1r=Z|oIn]IG?^K aL Ӄds׭;GҦ5ji wՈ9<1N2) ar  YdPxf=}lG#nň\-ܖ F3WҶV-;Ԍg>~AY8v ])ѣ<-ȻDp9$fP˦˷ -X`ciO@p1 0P3GQjUƥ7ʹvf//Y׮=~Uc$PMlqzXx,wn6@2~u=+D߱[بFGF]syybŜeC+Fnc^{qUGr19I9:H))sR`+P_NTRW(5Eڶ KTqZoѕdTJџ) ^6dpfn$ g8xrN(GsеS ?wLZQϏ!yTIxMQXfr:]W|sVl}ֲ?:%`Њ*̠=D&$5LeJWhWqQ.3.PFy7>Zn-D"CS#3aH#?Pq+XܲzWu&*֝'_<<zR_||iqJhiSZAHQ4b2hv(4X=)AM/L:ځ3Қ1Lx4I6րI hCqE-g4&;(aZr+PLZ.O5$+$qItir}xDbj3ri3R`jH9Q\>sJH:Tr8a+H) k2frIc'QA1H望!i\=Uw] )bGrǞ*#f8٭QbNOZr&l !6HȴO.|؟_jCi˝aW|6A`:V2X8#ҿ>ݟV gFa+ 9>IRSO sSX׈= #ԸHwIW⹧,odFxajOXʼn+sIFWs6g suť[1̛ ue,LQp(0&tMz [gCcvь⨴cdmjiv6SKIror vofQ\~JIu7;<1đ>lXmUҹV5x 6vݻ}H8-ȭ%4v 00aYi-ؕXңW1`i(+@Nӷ*pl= ov_؜tqp߸ L}b~tdnfT" gޣ[dO%rI6wݎ2M+>)_6ѨViɷn9orݾ\ يH ]OԼ$EvKq ׅI[FQR<yR>̑^ĚeqΨOB ; >JbRWh+cW6k^_sm F`W'4|Rф"[XIw#?ZG2z\7jNG]?Smt Hs'=/-v}+4ïO]yt -68ôͻt-ÑNt{U8_赿 Ti.vlFA'y!qwV#l`x8]?_Qׯ$PŁqҝs\gii} EGf#V F.r\5㩼CeOԤxHbr|l$ů*E8E%F2sI\۴PL0HspeW6=@kkQkVw)IVXUČ?=1^e||vG٬GTƓ˗Fzo:2BAP0ϧ|DL<UnF$eZPKH#^.2=6gU9)/3KzzT%y>u% T' }oޜ*9ǩ=ոiK+"E>rpW!m>3I$S3i3O 6.ARqrs5zcfYd@$k(h908UZf.TEc"6Twp{Wz q{p3'`uZbͳ*P͒F{UoNM6̣BwNr?/)ŜGi7>Dگ4LEaL2+Mb/vV7]Ή4,΄N$pu#O) |R"B9<..rqLaqO:wSI*ˆPwҘr)ev8jx*kDu-V,.L Xj<̣%YrpfzakS \Z.r:Hƹ=UCՆ!7Z$oUR)&r1v+l}k9ILskѥTywrluQ|++{ m97qf0i~GNWg1\ ((K@ >tx swր,[܏Jldr d敄RRhUɦ;ab-.zO4:sS,\JWI4 :BrAX֨ͻ S}(H8DY\ТJMr<^lw˰i1jay☗'oo.{(˷ߊϞPsLy kH&=PsHN:TLj1fHmu0j%PR"SCB9dTR B;o8FS#@@$RRL5@Ў7p*]Y6bns҈7JOs$;%R9DGDS%n~E'#`Pccn=WqMoBeYӵ>$/Q\F{U'+jM(hlc?S_3IG6_/\:gq ~U u>~!7_j[eǭ{?鶑hs\@ԭi3=95>^X ǔk.-_E&7~66C=?:՟tpR5 iJ1Gvnqm5|L^z9Lh NErceh5H\En'< ߂{\$xY$Y<ՏA5J##f ܒ)ʲ}}=Vyh؜?q|=hEBmUb,ILs]cNrv'6n)8:iVЩ7}2pUgPvv+ lsV$Q\G+ uj5U`vqZ 1./Pz YB=|C^[ ({&[,@S^t 5[B;F6@\H;ij傏c̨KB=V$\ǰ>㘥UW@D+m? O-u Z{4V~P'SrڜckxYٗP끌Ž(QnҴen"˱PҠPk(ڱ/EH7%a؂fftH_`v),т0w>ףG =;=c¾+, J x%T*}ۗv:wɡ1zfxCdFd+*|Lbש6ص+6Ӎ5!4b:;YVT` ŻwB/&9ψ{eT%HWo3<{i֓VFbyY#$8y1̱B7EQ ƀO+y"sҼB_\"A2W%Ha<׹m(g\; vkQNLcRd`P?PI;m>IC\יlXxrͦ.)lF < S}"ET0j/[Bfܑ_9k`դM]8J+4y`Dq^jz)si{X|!|!E袧*nptks3ѧx"W-O&)ru p`x#'2' wBq_7yk, L=Z} mMq=y:g+s,>\0ȇ!1j;&*!Xq~U3/(:{N;lA$h>nQ%YpS`>P)ŘXt#3T엺mE7& Iº2ڸ!0>[f%f @kEx'TzWTg)kG絣7 QGҔqH4(ґH0 QKEZ(QQ@(s@0qA41R >4uE~}ii(m1Z׆7q&nzUI$Vzc6F3zy]ҔAsVQQNkRxIUPI)X.FyNpiC<&嵍##IW +XI[PfF&i9Zfz4:SBj2#Tey"+Au<)yv{S敀eǓ_ "g#O|_Gm->ᥙQNlDp~?կNu%.ȱ7vRN~N3Jڠ@}ʏkDưǹp'{6֪K=|5B AUSJ|{1>9W/;AɬNT Յ`~ʡ՝4˨KƉ%$ GI fV!Ԍ7RRZ0u#1S(&\xZsZtZ?hw@f#êjY&`0y?_Q<:^Zĉ-(h0c js,w (?%IJ)1j+Fy(O B4d$r ,Qp&v'x8t"熯tPz,Wux 1q]֧=-m,/ qs,kٲy,evaI$jۦ >s%OgM%Sn-$0q޺{1,I1">Rҹ͊VO8x9QF<"W|yalG{ҒoA57ǜtYs_W^6VQ:C 2}{}+ Vy:|;kSn\\-ͺ%4I5 ae&Էt13"0;yUI{f vF^+C[ Sn NO^\7peU#׀xxD2 p}*|Ό{qgEwxZ !3)58Ӭtc v]啈^W=m:StaKz8j$+E|xUj=N|,ҭzIU+ԃB:,3(qF7%E|寱z^ėVSA'ܕЂ?A.)Fw{3楒H-y^Kxa% =<+$Zb3p*E@ I'ĥIm11V$GF)25bv,p[<f]eQXoQ lnVhPFG5WYm{>jJ*VR`QE{G!(m(PIv3J8Rqd{8Pi1KA@ 4!JU4zP@ h =iZQ6GZF| fۺ`1^Ov9_rטsNnWz>D$bxZ;楆PSR\$RDˬ߰l*yKf_ <ď,qUwQMa=˒Vzo sX7LRWmMnD[NPqֶ2M#އ'HGy$H4M &&c)Sjqɩ#C$݂'c<^2d??&JS}6iR0]YoQ(*u2T=9c.*WNrr}O"BtpT\ch$`~K9=yRƇ;7ґ_uVV#Ӗ'IڦŲB "FX;zSDsR rF 3P۽Ĭw~\T\.T$Se{ TN3O]Õ>/ l8=)n@=`%lmI-(&^0?#ط#oJI %X0՛c-I$|S4g2";/͞BgnOgj,*/ q+kCZ" 9?Cq'¡Pzv.w Ayl211/J@l֩0,>Ny/jan2Z {q},SKcimsbc[̪\ ]4[I)~_nAnNsZZ6cse\êHЬJrqe@ 1Ҹ|IausɬiR19&xgOJ6l-8r #.|^}9'oE>LjUN0p?y=-dmOG"&9]-ljk:t]\,j%C+ Wl#æYe!Ʉ0Tۖ?wiX]6e'zw#? WӲ&Xǩ?]->KIt*AE)ɻ Eo-Wў"K$` @+]>&~Wd`''ɯB6ycHwtN݌zל z:DVlEJ4$uz4,⹱7{tf$˒ 9]+iY͉Z_FN^Y<0X1W!ClsO_LҀ BI^Gk *V妕\>U`8RW+_mi=[ %K" ?*~[Cڒyv) ):wwz ݞȍ4T{j3'@׼38}M|b4; 8FS#nv+̕/C$6|iJ'Eģk!DR9^qkC:2O<"0<~U^е)&P:?17gWlUpL6XǗ7)4vRZ"MySW߬v3.q"2=Aּt< p{ҝy'B}3IdRӻtn`0sK@ E.Ӛ6ڀ`Ԙ zf(<֓qp3K@Ey(KP ;S4  AJ{P1E<);Q/Z|5PB,L@"MPkVcEeyy"l rMP|׷S&ԷVPlu xV< fZw5MX̆95j9CɫkZlu2ܨӻ9[/eaڪHqz. FI ǭrױ1G=VWKXΥ.UH@&;Va5s܍Fz| SHWhϯ4=)A}!E!E3nHȮ6p1sιǚ0ntD8k_Dc~H 8QR#Io 1_BG"Iصqw /(⃞/֚Oaqʈ~#.C8E^䦴$].OI ]f0Q3~~3_^}DLW#? b.9Rm~V`wҺ }>2e.wn$UK(klʄr=v誾^Qn ?ylӍܨbwT=AQ8Iu(V(Wtk3,M faOzTn,7֛',d67f&P@#N4 gTPp ~GQկeg#*>Y$R҄jHlKMK8嗔̙N@>{]ׄ|=x^kg;Ȁ `uUN |p]$2^3$gjiYۑ \h^xTX̷ .+/ !].d]w1{G?k<?nA#_ (d\r#7a5jz5as$Ygg #噻}ZF]ż*3+LlMEg1s1UeBm. K16>ҧڔ؜}yM\cH#7*ׁVwgƄ+vb(,EB-UJ⧷UXJH >y+^Pdp_!VA,n:(Gc.@ vuŜgp3L5*wO=CVȰڔ91j]Bo#ҮBNmǡ@ ,2CUGP6F9W)ͺj,}(MaʚN&b Pz2Q];K0{Lr]t%g-Jo{#"VA5?UQљH*$ OQh6 cMմfkF*y>VW=S<,8"}* ^em{(!U+境\nnn#kE+8ogG՟MѼgSJP/j\ jaIG@_iȿh;2ivQvL9A5~/mie>~(u/}Ttkaxd&qIţUxKZLצЧu[Ț2#HT7$"GH\qsg 78♐a>tmdG&MeUqÿ0SE=ij<~5XԋnCqiŇvǃ\O|^p%WUF|7κ%c/5}GMVPh̋<ON5Հ&Ϊ˟(E58 ԝۺf]NF69"/4%oX~yS=*֓4maل '_-Fs`^vG/i%N,a@cDpXĿΚN$ 9>DgDɼYdWe\'sC4G9FvDsTBIiac FrZmysp8W+մKYv[]*${W3~6 b L}kkH#mcҸ?otW=P# d?(QПνǗP}?|yKcfiCg'攌`׋|9g~KN~{1l +Ӎ:#e~WpMvJ3:0ӑB5˥Vʷz$hysRjYwo=di.~-f1,-h[- 橪)Yhomӣ3SfeVEު m]j~!Z2[\n_X Ąk+'mE:gNk ]9uhNBZӮXmI+u=;V_¤fsNTݤ%{kD@RRbcvI% LE10zJ%RP4 ZPJFhh-4 O=a#PM5FkS= Bd8ukI=JH@$6 c:U@ w3j,jBɦ ,o]N^9a\j~@כF<ⶠ ŋ W*Aj{ cڨ=#C˺UveT%d k"0k$} ;*QZnfAQ[˖d֦[rXDh&ኇ=KPg5yU 5Z53=J򲒱'xYp=RРU7Oƴ|A[}SKaA3(W([j񚝕a0rq^&xT:}JM#Q3(vpI8𵌚nln!V9'j#1 *+a{׭ <ul >vȼ#cq-ü2Y^W,0ğÚ 341zsbqyZM? ]?MyL`f*DE$ $TsFpF1Z9p\n[6g %E;($g֬:QQ\”(AmE44GToΕ0 dwP 1FpcHi WM[Pk+$&p93,qIR01zOҰFݤ/x' nY;! a,I=>ZnocEE4qrk&i0]q|b5?N0yyFqzojHЮ,"BrOjt}6{ݤ0ܡ.}׃X分y7wVܓRP5ev4]tcn#8FjOKMz!ʇkQq7;XHف9*;[.kar19>UpV9uEp]%Q#LO')7W뵝G)#o8P%Xو!@#jJTC4T0p8Iµ[.QY54bIm'GO}h҇mCsdĖ?:no|:sMv[uQ{˰Ba|< q+-PԺ)$*UTmc?uGQbnQ2Bp2O1ÖU=jG5\؉x5>$5w$C-2K,^O cGT FHS*BWjS^$Id 鱊V2d #Vu?ϽhM{զb3k?ViGP2䬃G;k'Gky 2t5Q<*a9*J-Z !);jb*vR Nk-ǃ5Do_'MbW=kEt+)/'Zʹ(UyʜgTBfx7A>]/gд˂rW{U #z.ZZj f7cOKU(㙧q)Cqt+]/8s`Z!vQ6ӨMm3TޕROXƒݛXjXVՉ؍Q1ʠ5f")#+춆ljZa \C[%.LjqzuxZ]ϲu̎mWdGڕWy&Rؐs,g?i6I1.R2_Σo1oi!YGK,(f̣w|bй'4mPj:"A 4q${W$^2 Gּou4?FL+sBKCHFM;;3` -7cZZiiih.%J%- (QKE%@R;UYx'x6=KLWYTgLɢcnjN~MIHSH#ֵ&h >(sqLnAgrU&5< 9WpGCXJ*ϙ=q͎M!=bh&F=V^Fj!rUnbuUf 4pF3D 68rxKFZfE UH+AOa6ԆhqҢ^*4mVN4TqÇ ð[aj01'pl4YDoW{j}}8(AEtEژPj9̊;w5m#B@ z GEFiQAOJvDrN 6}~#b0q`rх)!2?{~q)c =F|ʸy?:pG#2`(]+;=Fn*'r`(#N#FxDg&0=1P0X~e\}iNA@`3vNs&sCh,d|%_Xi)($v P3ߕu2"͹ ~5?-OO֭j_9TxF6sr~a^<]L+i:i$ۚIB Xܶ̑W<)a$(d.Iأ'FkϗQNb#t~ 5J:]P igBqJ[g:n5otx)-fXD@7 =+[ZKFldc?kw0h!- l6A}k>"3xx1?M.]M_S4;iAmҮ<ƨk\R=Ռk:A'y*Ƣ PxEߙXJ[1z~5 &[v.P t snSiޏDxTRx9^(-Ն,8qb"["E$j<*)[DRBG͓M`IcCк$ZɒD#d^ޝے⬙vye:rc+Ct'r) ^VjtHE4l^Ź#b͂sWm(X;94ݷ*O֑zT) >Gpl#|)\yOؚjU`r7ZnCwb.eĜT3c$2{q' A`JLwv.A T()ʙ &9>R@'2ʞ= Z7Րǰvn?J?4+#<ԼR)*ܥ0V["&vt5]b̘W Ԯd$crC|+&F~}NH- 0I ̿Q8)TGTҲ}pJ͓1M>#%y%ct5qAWuF!RbI1E-.(E.(RLP-Pi@GJ] xLH[6X<"-eے<8*+F{ҧiU &֩T'Frpy3|kbXwm%4gqFMNQq[]X17Ӛv3L@0)c:ҩ 娛\5UDAVs]M#-M%']h:)fhߞ~2%+dJ!a4Bp|iw׭deOAf88Դk[ZVrf9¨*NڼƯ~V;qb0Q,?3k8>MÚuWqlL.@?P+i-$^kC<'>b 8>nuȓ>/'-^n?G/Y\ˑ|8NyZ^U՘Qڜlt.3&7T$gם029m7S'ՏB1ȑ^<+vi4.Sjy?ܕON*UʽG>9x`HЩDXNomPHՈ־H^w9)J7]Ƒ|i "$S#ָn˵Čpw~Udy@c^` )_h.s+̼{;ʺ`1`N-A<279+F4y#aH|;sEzz=mY>ideIN9?5{yANHZy*lvs] (5k}LJǵzUsG5㜝Bڤgk8 ?uGf!f z.}+\i.p<Ȣ$Fh95[ncݣYToºT#SqzA 00?s ھ#E%1r1vGHii׭pR=3*8ÎY9"s*ЉܞlF:޽/Lt # 4.Wr0ֱ^qDX e!^1Jun(niSmof e_̄dbN{plr˧=E* 4[1юNԑ϶=kfݯs6ίXPրQqqܴz4$&-sp F"ӵVݺ7bw8frǿ"&iV&Moo\@"? g\B3l|ԊG9 $@ԾiVQe{fHAi2TM"uQhERCľ2+.fy6=W#Z$(GDa33^S;Pyظ= 3-#p?={#-Xb{bP{J`k8hgƽig*(0+bOHd >ܓ8ɯ?w'My<`Ѝzrc~3=׊4'<" Ǧ|.)I*L4OCjMumfv\R F+fR[[Mu-qJ+:χ̗(݄ ZE&Pg8_I9VL!5'm~+Ҥ2B^F~`E9-յYKwZ;+*sTI=ܒ $qMYyJ+Š.S!~QF:*HŶC4L_9\ͻ4bxWH%fdBbdsƼzZ]ڼѭQ4'Ú fٿ.̅ pZ(QUW.@'c`QZ۳9lp[c{=~Saw[G;[i}WY gݧ2JQ=m*Q$t>|vqqA;sz֥ y- g_ppA֩)83z䮏Zo2PW=y~s%-2k4JIoD`qw:iD4,p|_-xlGEp s]֕ I5ċx_'\U&}t!m5 Ae'>}qtr7>\ۏ[Rdu`99=o<'|@Z3\Jյ4z~G.g/g_=wC, $ryʍ8z?[yS$<1z6Уu$WdkD'?[ ~yHwĊf҄@e9Myi6WP~l>6Ɠx$GWRC(#,8Lfx&KI CGgMUY~37Q }Z[cZĶsg46 #*@s_@@<ׁIsv+~8=hkX \,:m/3^)LorA!>p M M&W,<s֨6Y6:#kվ:wh_\"$a< 99kτ5ovu#^?M_@еěT62@_F64EU^6`ׯ!H;ҾjRh$F-bMdZ\r̭Z0aDhI;݁$q~CKSG8 Dߥ*gp~ Ȁn2},sSpⲹV,$C~Ty]60QmL+J~ďM7ia(X` 89/PDI(DX#^WS\>kPxrS@bDZS:  ~NdP^MTz=OIgSQH6y*GSھ7{aX~58jΌVއB3MW[xĜQJFk>Q; &*414R%fPQNPE6v9 Zm<(7f)PqvY2yUly&0kȌz2{ jEwF ӑ6uU!3df6;xW?wocg=P`+wUԼgD c]Mc_I]dK$eY䏃*ΕMQcʑ6+cy\jGd/''Oľ|>|ɀ8GS\ӎBZ K媞tndc]1_{,|d%(#c]1FT%fBIF& iڒ[O+#GQ]u"[;描OcZF9E܉ЩM^Q$&bN jKG IUkT"963֊Zs"R`銮~@+ZĖ Q+!fOVQYD#昙9xBT sVs\rLO/3ZRS U ]Hr]dr _j#z}6Q QL$MFIUmp8~,蚮eY—y:pK5z䶣f(BK5Y c5,E zקԡgJXV&]iQJm3Cp=OjC$P3{\OE_ۛ=>k4R;!W졖OkWO 1e 5N]4=D3癷+ojqRt-E2EػGyy40=9,Myؚ5aˑ~\Taril`䎋2ò!A"?lqPN92sQ#7s`T:D,2;jđ q1nn0Kft1^'v l9{9>+HXf;"4$qUOu;}W(ad' GCVWVD (B}a3Iڙ*jq+S>]V,8oZwڭe -jz?p{m$M[$]΄X敖UicOnE9 2̿ Ex?)XBb|/u⠺$vҙ9gP3T'L˥|>\pqB)BbDޣ.d F`[ɏkz#mh$b3(c>j &@ Z[`UB.F@G+3޳oArW&[Ÿ0ZnPy~2?40_2C־c9'MˀF2ڸs$YF `}) 98Fq1c.ܟƹo UUFߔtp'+|F gla[a扨֎Zmχm ̠`iu&t$=j[FW0%-xb~w g;xݎ{J\۟4>Y tkIg)ge\p?s#daa}k6`uf?gs:Zy3:)jMBI2H?ҥ?k;wI}UWF>lV'WU^?`|:(׏cŵͰv u 6|`c?Rvpj6?,A1&eޚ 1cgsҦP1+&y" :s_?-} Yr޲ kGl1cұJ^(.1X.sض9-6v]Eo?֚3cxq_LOpLVIG84.?Z:yO*ƛUNg Ofs$TftݵOsꀈ53sAӑ([HHP QBeEHE[[ԵjR298$7k8K|=oEuZ-7x)'cXhCOX$ >S+j 7$cӷ I=AX"#8K$W>Vmv6($((QE ))hRPc|"+V'G*(iMǰB0V/HQEgOFU]DGW6n16{;Cq'(RA3 6\Y6íSAt*, 0#Ҋ+QMٞ*d \qE5Z\ZKx#G*Jppx5gz*mml*(U$OAFlm9 Warning: fopen(https://newsweekme.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/MAR_02_2016_LEBANON-INSIDE-COVER-780x439.jpg): failed to open stream: HTTP wrapper does not support writeable connections in /home/newsweekme/public_html/wp-includes/class-wp-image-editor.php on line 428

Tension between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon reflects a wider regional one

By Rami G. Khouri

The sudden spat between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon over Riyadh’s suspension of $4 billion in military aid to Lebanon is much more than an awkward bilateral disagreement between two Arab countries. It is the political equivalent of what Saudi Arabia has done in Yemen using military power—the unstoppable force of newly decisive Saudi unilateral actions across the Middle East, hitting the indestructible object of the country of Lebanon that has survived numerous challenges, wars and crises over the past half century.

In Lebanon, as in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is using its immense financial and military power to achieve goals that it feels protect its national interests, but that have eluded it through diplomatic action.

The danger in the Arab world’s most powerful country applying intense force against two of the weakest and most vulnerable states is that everybody’s interests could suffer; the region faces the danger of new episodes of state fragmentation, political violence, economic collapse, large-scale human suffering, and new refugee flows.

The specifics of the Yemen and Lebanon situations are very different, yet some fascinating underlying commonalities reflect important domestic dynamics and regional tensions that have rippled throughout the region for decades—along with new ones that help explain the rising animosity and higher stakes.

The basic facts in this latest spat are that Riyadh wants Beirut to apologize for not supporting two pan-Arab and pan-Islamic resolutions condemning attacks against Saudi diplomatic facilities in Iran following Saudi Arabia’s execution of the Saudi Shiite cleric it accused of anti-state acts. The Lebanese government has condemned the anti-Saudi moves in Iran, but did not vote for the Arab League’s resolution because it included mentions of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Hezbollah holds posts within the Lebanese Parliament and cabinet, enjoys more military capabilities than the Lebanese army and has used them in wars in Israel and Syria, and exercises effective veto power over government decisions—which is why Lebanon’s foreign minister did not sign on to the anti-Iran resolution.

Saudi Arabia and four of its five Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners have taken other measures against Lebanon, including reducing diplomatic representation in Beirut, banning travel to Lebanon by their nationals, as well as talks of expelling dozens of Lebanese nationals from the Gulf region, along with blacklisting individuals and companies that are seen as Hezbollah procurement arms.

Lebanon fears that further moves—like withdrawing bank deposits, expelling more of the 500,000 Lebanese nationals working and living in the GCC, or suspending major investments in Lebanese real estate—will devastate Lebanon’s economy at a time when it has already suffered from the negative impacts of the war in Syria.

Remittances by Lebanese in the GCC have averaged nearly $5 billion annually in recent years, accounting for 70 percent of all remittances that are an important pillar of the economy. With tourism and foreign investments already down, and investors jittery due to the impact of the Syria war, more pressure from the GCC would be hard for Lebanon to withstand—which is probably why Riyadh applied its measures now to force the Lebanese government to fall in line.

The Saudi withdrawal of the $4 billion security assistance comes at the worst possible moment.
Lebanon remains vulnerable to military attacks from militants in Syria associated with Jabhat Al Nusra and Daesh, along with small groups inside Lebanon, like the Abdullah Azzam Brigades that attacked Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Beirut two years ago.

Such threats have been held at bay since then by the combined actions of the state military, security services and Hezbollah’s significant capabilities. Weakening Lebanese security capabilities now scares all Lebanese, as Saudi Arabia well knows.

TLebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters via a screen in Beirut's southern suburbshe real dilemma for both Beirut and Riyadh, however, is that the Lebanese government cannot influence Hezbollah’s actions. The Saudi Interior Ministry accused Hezbollah of “spreading chaos and instability, in addition to waging terror attacks and practicing criminal and illegal acts across the world.”
Hezbollah defiantly refused to apologize to the Saudis, instead accusing them of using terror tactics in the war in Yemen. Caught in the middle, Lebanese Prime Minister Tamam Salam quickly condemned the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and profusely acknowledged Lebanon’s appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s support over the years. As he prepared to tour GCC states to smooth ruffled feathers and try to reinstate the military aid, he reaffirmed his government’s “adherence to Arab consensus on common issues.”

The problem for Lebanon is, there never has been any significant “Arab consensus on common issues,” which is why many Arab states fight each other in proxy wars across the region. The immediate disagreements are likely to be resolved in the usual Saudi-Lebanese tradition of vague reconciliations that contain the current crisis but never fix the underlying problems, which will recur.

Both governments have carefully left the door open to this, and neither can afford the consequences of sustained mutual animosities and reciprocal punitive measures. In a wider context, the most fascinating thing about this Lebanese-Saudi political confrontation is the deeper regional contradictions that it reveals, and that show no signs of being resolved. One is the accelerating Iranian-Saudi ideological face-off across the Middle East that threatens now to disfigure Lebanon, as it has already done in Iraq, Yemen, Palestine, and Syria.

Another is the year-old Saudi determination unilaterally to take decisive and tough actions to protect its interests—even though such moves can create new threats and problems while they try to solve others.
A third is the chronic vulnerability of small Arab states to the actions of bigger Arab or foreign powers, while those powers often find that military and financial pressures rarely achieve their intended aims, and instead only generate greater defiance.

Also at play in Lebanon—as in Yemen and elsewhere—are the twin dangers of weakening central governments, and the problem of how to deal with powerful non-state actors that often are stronger than sovereign governments.

Ironically, Saudi moves in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon could have the unintended consequence of strengthening the precise forces they seek to weaken, such as the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran has stepped in now and offered Lebanon the security assistance that Saudi Arabia has withdrawn, provided that Lebanon officially requests such an assistance, which would—if it happens—achieve exactly what Riyadh is trying to prevent—stronger Iranian links among Arab parties.

Many Lebanese dislike Hezbollah’s power that it wields beyond the control of the government, and Lebanon’s justice minister resigned in February to protest this. But Saudi financial and security pressure will not force a resolution of this internal Lebanese contradiction.

Lebanon will likely maintain its awkwardly ambiguous policy of disassociation by which it refrains from taking sides in regional ideological or sectarian contests, so as to maintain the fragile peace at home.

 

Social Streams

Comments

comments

Facebook Comments

Website Comments

Post a comment