Lebanese Minister Welcomes Iran’s Military Offer

Lebanese Minister Welcomes Iran’s Military Offer
Lebanese Minister Welcomes Iran’s Military Offer

Lebanese Defense Minister Samir Moqbel announced that Beirut can accept Tehran's offer of arms and military equipment now that Riyadh has canceled its plan for arms supplies to Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia said on Friday it has halted a $3 billion program for military supplies to Lebanon in protest against the Hezbollah resistance group fighting terrorists in Syria.

In reaction, Moqbel said Iran's initiative to arm the Lebanese Army is now considered more seriously, because anti-Iran sanctions were removed in mid-January.

"The Lebanese government should now take a political decision," Moqbel said, urging the administration not to miss the chance of arming the Lebanese Army in their fight against terrorist challenges.

"I hope there will be a reexamination of the Iranian offer to support the Lebanese Army," Moqbel said in an interview with Al Mayadeen TV.

Moqbel revealed that he knew about the Saudi decision to halt the aid to Lebanon for "a while".

"I am saddened by the Saudi decision and hope Riyadh reconsiders it. The Lebanese Army has the necessary capabilities to fight terrorism," Moqbel added. The Lebanese minister, who visited Iran in October 2014, had been lobbying for the Lebanese government to accept the Iranian offer of military aid.

Members of the Saudi-backed March 14 coalition in Lebanon had pressured the government not to accept the aid, arguing at the time that it would violate international sanctions against Iran.

Sanctions were lifted off Iran last month in a historic deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers over its nuclear program.

Back in October 2014, Iran's Defense Minister Lieutenant General Hossein Dehqan said the country had prepared a series of military items to be dispatched to Lebanon as a gift to help the Arab country in fighting terrorists.

Dehqan said the weapons would be delivered to Lebanon at Beirut's request. He reiterated that Tehran was prepared to train the Lebanese armed forces and share its experience in the battle against terrorists, including the self-styled Islamic State militant group.

Moqbel said at the time that Iran's gift for Lebanon's Army is "unconditional", but his country's Cabinet should handle the legal procedures for the arms delivery.