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Riyadh to receive French-made arms intended for Lebanon

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir ©AP

Saudi Arabia will take delivery of French-manufactured arms originally ordered for the Lebanese army, following Riyadh’s recent decision to retract USD four billion in military aid to Beirut.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced the plan on Saturday during a visit to France.

Last month, the Saudi regime said it had suspended USD three billion in military assistance to the Lebanese military and another USD one billion to the country’s internal security forces.

The aid was cut after Lebanon refrained from endorsing Saudi-crafted statements against Iran at separate meetings held in Cairo and Jeddah.

The move also followed victories by the Syrian army, which is backed by fighters of Lebanon's resistance movement of Hezbollah, in its battle against Takfiri terrorists battling to topple the government in Damascus.

"We made the decision that we will stop the USD three billion from going to the Lebanese military and instead they will be re-diverted to the Saudi military," Jubeir told journalists in Paris, adding, "So the contracts (with France) will be completed but the clients will be the Saudi military."

The aid is vital as the Lebanese army is fighting Takfiri militants from the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Daesh near the country’s northeastern border with Syria.

France’s arms delivery to Saudi Arabia comes amid Riyadh’s ongoing military aggression against Yemen and its support for militant groups in Syria.

Several European countries including Germany, Britain and France have been engaged in major arms deals with the Saudi regime, turning a blind eye to calls by rights groups to cancel the agreements.

Back in February, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for the imposition of an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, and urging EU member states to stop selling weapons to Riyadh as it is accused of targeting civilians in Yemen. 

People inspect damage at a house after it was destroyed by a Saudi airstrike in Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a, February 25, 2016. ©Reuters

According to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Saudi Arabia’s imports for 2011-15 increased by 275 percent compared with 2006–10. The British government has licensed USD 7.8 billion in sales of arms, fighter jets and other military hardware to Riyadh since Prime Minister David Cameron came to power in 2010. France also signed USD-12-billion contracts with Saudi Arabia in 2015 alone.

Yemen has been under military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March 2015. More than 8,300 people, among them 2,236 children, have been killed. The strikes have taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools and factories.

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