Procurement: Saudis Pay France To Rearm Lebanon To Fight Iran


April 21, 2015: In mid-April French military aid began arriving in Lebanon. Actually the $3 billion in weapons and equipment is being paid for by Saudi Arabia and the deal was arranged back in 2013. The deal provides different benefits for the three countries involved. For France it boosts their defense industries and the centuries old French desire to preserve the power of Arab Christians in that region. For the Saudis it is another chance to hurt Iranian military and political power by making Hezbollah (a local Shia militia created and sustained by Iran) less of a threat to the Lebanese armed forces (which is dominated by Christians).

This deal was agreed to at the end of 2013 but it took over a year to work out the details. This is where the deal ran into problems because Lebanese politics is all about factions that don’t get along. Grudges lingering from the 1975-90 civil war are still a factor. Then there is the desire of some Lebanese politicians to hold out for anti-aircraft missiles to use against Israeli aircraft. France said at the start that weapons that would threaten Israel were off limits and the Saudis went along. Similar disputes arose from various Lebanese factions throughout 2014 until everyone was placated or worn down. The French, and several Lebanese army staff officers got their way and a lot of the money will go to rebuilding military infrastructure, much of it still not rebuilt after the civil war. There will be a lot of armored vehicles and helicopters, some missiles and assurances that none of this stuff would end up in Hezbollah hands and used against Israel. 




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