Listen to the article

In their recent tour of Lebanese leaders, the ambassadors of the Quintet Committee, including France, the US, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, made no significant progress in breaking the deadlocked presidential election. However, the messages delivered by some were crystal clear.

Saudi Ambassador Walid Bukhari did not participate in the meeting with Marada Party leader Sleiman Frangieh, and failed to issue any official statement regarding his absence. According to leaked information, the reason given for his non-attendance was a health condition, a familiar pretext in political maneuvering. This is often used both to sidestep potential embarrassment and, most importantly, to convey a message through deliberate non-attendance or participation.

According to sources tracking the Quintet’s movement, the Saudi ambassador was present at Tuesday’s meetings but abstained from attending those held on Wednesday involving Frangieh. However, he participated in Thursday’s encounter with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader, Gebran Bassil. This sequence of events suggests there is no rift between the Kingdom and Bassil. Furthermore, the Saudi ambassador’s absence from the meeting with Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the ‘Resistance’ parliamentary bloc further confirmed that his selective absences carried a political message. The Saudi message to Frangieh indicates that the Kingdom does not perceive him as possessing the qualities they seek in the future president. As for Hezbollah, the message denotes that Saudi Arabia’s stance towards the party remains unchanged despite a recent Saudi-Iranian rapprochement.

Furthermore, the participation of US Ambassador Lisa Johnson in the meeting with Frangieh indicated American interest in his statements before the Quintet ambassadors. Frangieh had to answer a series of questions on several Lebanese matters that were of significance for them, particularly regarding his relationship with Hezbollah. The Marada leader responded with his customary frankness, reaffirming his commitment to this relationship, the weaponry of the party and its role, which he describes as a resistance force. According to these sources, the US ambassador did not like Frangieh’s words, although she did not express any dissent or objection during the meeting, assuming the role of a listener instead.

It was anticipated that the US ambassador would abstain from participating in the meeting with the Hezbollah bloc, considering its classification as a terrorist organization by her country. However, she was made aware that Hezbollah would not facilitate the electoral process, as it is steadfast in its support for Frangieh and will not abandon him, even in the event of potential dialogue. Additionally, the House Speaker will not call for a new electoral session until a presidential deal is reached outside Parliament. Hence, the invitation to a session would be nothing more than a theatrical ceremony, “baptizing” a new consensus at the expense of the Lebanese people.