Lebanese politicians and bankers believe Saudi Arabia intends to do to their country what it did to Qatar – corral Arab allies into enforcing an economic blockade unless its demands are met.
Unlike Qatar, the world’s biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas with a population of just 300,000, Lebanon has neither the natural nor financial resources to ride it out, and people there are worried.
Up to 400,000 Lebanese work in the Gulf region, and remittances flowing back into the country, estimated at between $7-8 billion a year, are a vital source of cash to keep the economy afloat and the heavily-indebted government functioning.
“These are serious threats to the Lebanese economy which is already dire. If they cut the transfer of remittances, that will be a disaster,” a senior Lebanese official told Reuters.
Those threats came from Lebanon’s former prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, who resigned on November 4 in a shock broadcast from Riyadh that Lebanese political leaders have ascribed to pressure from the Saudis.