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May 21, 2019
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Saudi Arabia suspends $3bn package to Lebanese army aid

Saudi Arabia has suspended an aid package worth $3 billion for the Lebanese army in what an official called a response to Beirut’s failure to condemn attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.

Saudi Arabia was enraged when Iranians raided its missions last month – and many countries in the region came out in support of Riyadh.

The official Saudi news agency SPA quoted an official source saying Lebanon had not joined in condemning the attacks at two recent summits because Beirut had come under pressure from Lebanon’s powerful Shi’ite Muslim movement Hezbollah.

The unnamed official added that Riyadh had also canceled the remainder of $1 billion in aid it had earmarked for Lebanon’s internal security service.

The moves underlined the deep sensitivities in a region riven by the rivalry between Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia and the leading Shi’ite power Iran. The two are backing different sides in Syria’s civil war and different factions in neighboring Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam urged Saudi Arabia to reconsider.

Salam said, “We express our deep appreciation for King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his brothers in the Saudi leadership … and we hope for a reconsideration of the decision to halt the aid for our army and security forces.