In his January 22, 2019 column in the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the newspaper's former editor and CEO of Al-Arabiya TV, stated that the Arab heads of state had skipped the Beirut economic summit for security reasons, as they feared violence on the part of Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon. He emphasized that the Iran-nurtured Hizbullah is blocking the formation of a government in Lebanon, controls Beirut's international airport, imposes its policy on Lebanon's leaders, and embroils it in war with Israel. If Hizbullah did not exist or was unarmed, he said, Lebanon would be flourishing and Beirut would be the region's richest city. Lebanon, he added, will not be stable, the Palestinians will not achieve a state, and Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Bahrain will likely not have a better future as long as Iran continues to sow havoc in their midst.
Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed (Image: Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), June 30, 2017)
The following are the main points of his column.
"The lights of the [Arab] Economic Summit in Beirut were turned out even before it began, because of an apparent consensus to boycott it [that formed] without coordination among the leaders of the 20 countries [who were slated to attend]. The absence [from the conference] was not a political move against Lebanon or its leadership, or against the summit's agenda; it was for security reasons. This is because Iran's expansion, and its control of Lebanon's institutions, has become very serious, and was of concern to the [Arab League] member states; they did not want to risk sending their top echelons to attend [the summit]. Qatar was the exception because of its burgeoning relations with Tehran...
"The frustration and disappointment of Lebanon's politicians at the collective absence of the Arab kings and presidents... should be directed against the source [country, i.e. Lebanon itself], on whose soil Iran poses a possible danger to leaders [who were meant] to participate in the summit. This is because the largest and most dangerous militia in the world, Hizbullah, is in Beirut, and that is always a problem for the Lebanese... It is preventing them from forming a government in Lebanon; it controls its airport; it terrifies civilian political forces; and it imposes its policy on its leaders. If Hizbullah did not exist, or was not armed, Lebanon might be a stable and prosperous country, and Beirut would be the wealthiest city in the region, capable of hosting international conferences, not just Arab League [conferences].
"The region is impacted by a series of crises, and most of them are linked to Iran. Unfortunately, Lebanon will not be stable, the Palestinians will achieve neither a state nor civil life, and Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Bahrain will have no hope for a better future as long as the Iranian policy of fomenting chaos in them prevails.
"No one can help Lebanon stabilize and prosper as long as there is an external interfering element that continues to feed the armed militias that are involved in the war in Syria. [These same forces] have entangled Lebanon, for some 40 years, against Israel – which, since accounts were settled with the PLO, is no longer considered a hostile state...
"The crises in Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria are closely connected to Iran, that has recently been pushed into a corner following the launch of all-out war against it by U.S. President Donald Trump. If [the U.S.] manages to change Iran's policy, it will free Lebanon and all the other impacted countries; if it fails, their troubles will intensify."