(Photo credit: Al Mayadeen)
During an interview with Nidaa al-Watan on 14 March, the head of the Lebanese Forces (LF) party, Samir Geagea, called on Saudi leaders to return to Lebanon because “the Lebanese people are in dire need of their assistance.”
“There is one and only solution, and it is one that has historically saved Lebanon in every crisis [before], and that is the help of the Gulf brothers, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Geagea said in relation to the crisis Lebanon is experiencing.
Since 2019, the people of the Levantine nation have been living through a crisis described by the World Bank as the worst economic meltdown since the 19th century.
Fueled by decades of mismanagement and corruption, the crisis further deteriorated last year after Riyadh declared an economic war on Beirut in response to comments made by former interior minister George Kordahi criticizing the brutal war in Yemen.
“I appeal to the Saudi leadership and all Gulf leaders to reconsider their position on Lebanon, not out of conviction of the current authority, of course, but out of faith in the Lebanese people,” Geagea said, before adding: “I do not bet in any way on the current authority.”
The Israeli-trained Christian leader also spoke about the ongoing talks between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying that no deal can be expected before the 15 May general elections and that a bailout package is likely dependent on whether the composition of parliament is “radically” changed.
Amid these appeals by Geagea for closer ties with Riyadh, just last month a major Israeli news outlet published an analysis piece calling on Israeli leaders to interfere in Lebanon’s elections by collaborating with Geagea, or as he is referred to in the piece, “our friend in the First Lebanon War.”
“The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the Christian partners of Hezbollah, may lose half of its seats to the LF,” the writer Ehud Yaari, said before adding “most of the seats of the [FPM] may move to the party of Samir Geagea, our friend in the First Lebanon War.”
The LF is a Maronite Christian political party that was formed as an Israeli-backed militia group at the start of the Lebanese Civil War to oppose the Lebanese National Movement (LNM), an umbrella alliance of leftist parties allied with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The LF transformed into a political party in 2005, following the release of Geagea from prison.
In 1994 Geagea was convicted to 11 years solitary confinement in the Ministry of Defense after being found guilty of ordering the Church of Our Lady of Deliverance bomb attack in Zouk Mikael, which left nine dead. He was also accused of the assassinations of former prime minister Rashid Karami, National Liberal Party leader Dany Chamoun and his family, and former LF member Elias Al-Zayek.
Last year, Geagea was also directly linked to the shooting of unarmed Hezbollah and Amal Movement supporters in the Teyouneh neighborhood of Beirut.
Official cables released by Wikileaks also show that, since his release from prison, Geagea has pursued financing for his party’s activities from both the US embassy and Saudi Arabia.