LEBANON: Arab League endorses call for Lebanon’s neutrality by Syriac Maronite Patriarch Mor Boutros al-Raï

BETH KERKE (BKERKI), Lebanon – Syriac Maronite Patriarch Mor Béchara Boutros al-Raï this week received a delegation from the Arab League headed by the League’s newly appointed Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki at the Patriarchate in Beth Kerke (Bkerki). Zaki is in Lebanon, which is a member of the Arab League since 1945, to try to find a breakthrough in the country’s political deadlock. Mor Boutros al-Raï and Hossam Zaki discussed the call by the Syriac Maronite primate to bring back Lebanon’s neutrality and disentangle it from regional powers dominance, especially from Iran’s dominance over its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. The Syriac Maronite primate has also called for the international community and the UN to step in and help solve Lebanon’s political and economic problems through an international conference.

Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki stated that the Arab League welcomes and supports the call for active neutrality. Patriarch al-Raï published his memorandum of “Lebanon and Active Neutrality” on 17 August, 2020, two weeks after the massive explosion in the port of Beirut. The memorandum calls for Lebanon to pursue a policy of “active neutrality” and extract itself from regional and international conflicts and, given the ethnic and religious diversity of its population, act as a mediator in the region. Lebanon has a mixed population of Arabs, Syriacs (Maronites, Rum), Armenians, and Druze.

After the meeting, Zaki stated that the Patriarch’s neutrality position “is in full accord with the Council of the Arab League’s decisions regarding Lebanon’s self-distancing policy and keeping the country out of all regional conflicts.” Zaki assured Patriarch al- Raï he would try to seek consensus and communicate Lebanon’s neutrality to all parties involved and to find a way out of the current crisis to allow for the formation of a government that will carry out the required reforms.

Iran-proxy Hezbollah has come under high pressure especially since the explosion in the port of Beirut (Hezbollah controls large parts of that port). Many claim Lebanon is hijacked by Hezbollah as part of Iranian plans for regional hegemony. This, and Hezbollah’s participation in the wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, its constant attacks on the Gulf countries, and its open declarations of aggression against America have isolated Lebanon from its neighbors and from the international community. Hezbollah is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Last year Germany designated Hezbollah fully a terrorist organization.

Patriarch Mor Boutros al- Raï also received on Friday the Commander of the Lebanese Army General Joseph Aoun in a friendly Easter visit. The Patriarch praised the way the military performed its role in these very difficult and instable circumstances calling on everyone to stand in support of the Lebanese army.

Lebanon’s Interior Minister Mohamed Fahmy has publicly warned several times that the Lebanese security forces are losing control over the security of the country. Last month, Fahmy warned that the Lebanese army and policing forces have a hard time carrying out 90% of their tasks to protect the Lebanese homeland and its citizens. Fahmy blamed the ruling class and political parties, which he said were unable to agree on a national plan to save the sliding country.