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Daily News Analysis

Saudis use bribery to influence Lebanese politicians

Crescent International

There are only two things the Saudis know: spreading sectarianism and using the oil wealth to buy loyalty of people, especially politicians in different Muslim countries. Emile Lahoud, the former Lebanese President made a candid revelation in an interview with Iran's Press TV on May 3 saying that he was offered a suitcase full of dollars when he became the commander in chief of Lebanese armed forces.

Tehran, Crescent-online
Sunday May 4, 2014, 11:41 DST

The Saudi regime uses bribery to influence politicians and their policies in Lebanon. This accusation was made not by an ordinary person but by Lebanon’s former President Emile Lahoud, in an interview with Iran’s Press TV that was broadcast on Saturday May 3.

In comments that were both candid and revealing, Lahoud, who served as president of Lebanon from November 24, 1998 to November 24, 2007, told Press TV that many Lebanese politicians switch sides because they have pledged allegiance to foreign countries.

Before becoming president, Lahoud was commander-in-chief of Lebanon’s army. According to the Lebanese constitution, only a Maronite Christian can be Lebanon’s president. The prime minister must always be a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament must always be a Shi‘i Muslim.

The confessional nature of politics and division of power in the country are the direct result of French colonial policies and what the former colonial power bequeathed to the country.

Lahoud said when he was appointed head of Lebanon’s armed forces, the then president of the republic and chief of intelligence approached him with “a suitcase full of US$100” bills.

They said “this is half a million dollars that we give every month to the commander in chief who goes along [with] our policy,” Lahoud revealed.

“I said why don’t you give it to the government and the government gives it to the army. He [the intelligence chief] said no… He said this has been done since 1982,” the former president noted.

“I said who is doing that. He said Sheikh Rafei and that he brings them from Saudi Arabia,” he added. The Rafei family is from Tripoli and has close links with the Saudi regime that promotes Wahhabism in Lebanon as well as many other Muslim countries by bribing people.

Even Lahoud who is Christian and was the direct beneficiary of the confessional-based politics when he became president said Lebanon needs to replace its sectarian-based electoral law with a national law to get rid of foreign-backed politicians.

Currently, the Hariri family serves as Saudi Arabia’s front in Lebanon. Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister even carried a Saudi passport. He had close business links with the Saudi ruling family whose interests he served in Lebanon.

Since Hariri senior’s assassination in February 2005, his son Saad Hariri has taken on the mantle of serving Saudi interests. Saad’s problem is that he is a playboy and is seldom in the country spending most of his time in the nightclubs of Europe.

The people of Lebanon have realized the disruptive role of Saudi Arabia not only in their country but the entire region. There is strong resentment against such Saudi policies that support the demonic ideology of takfirism.

It seems prominent Lebanese politicians are now stepping forward to condemn Saudi interference as Lahoud has done. Perhaps more Lebanese politicians need to speak out as must politicians, ulama and academics elsewhere.


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