Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia to inject $3 billion into Lebanese army

By Susanna Capelouto, CNN
December 29, 2013 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
This file photo shows Lebanese Army soldiers on duty in eastern outskirts of Sidon, Lebanon.
This file photo shows Lebanese Army soldiers on duty in eastern outskirts of Sidon, Lebanon.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Lebanese army will get $3 billion from Saudi Arabia, says Lebanon state news agency
  • The money could buy weapons from France, according to a statement
  • Lebanon's army is not as well equipped as Hezbollah, which is headquartered in Lebanon
  • Hezbollah has been supporting Syrian government in civil war

(CNN) -- Saudi Arabia pledged $3 billion to the Lebanese Army to strengthen its capabilities, according to Lebanon's state-run news agency.

Lebanon's President Gen. Michel Sleiman said the money will allow the army to buy weapons from France, and he expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia, according to the statement.

"The Saudi aid to the Lebanese Army is the largest in the history of Lebanon," Sleiman said.

The announcement comes as French President Francois Hollande is in Saudi Arabia for talks on the crisis in the Mideast and to strengthen economic ties.

"I think a majority of Lebanese would support it -- they want a stronger army -- but it will be divisive. It will create political and ideological tensions," says Rami Khouri, an analyst with The Daily Star, a Lebanese newspaper.

Lebanon is also home to Hezbollah, which is better equipped than Lebanon's army and has been supporting government forces in neighboring Syria's civil war.

"This is the Saudi's way of thinking they can challenge or weaken Hezbollah or Iran or Syria. This is what they do. They give money," Khouri says.

Tensions have been rising in Lebanon. On Friday a car bomb in Beirut killed former Lebanese finance minister Mohamad Chatah, an outspoken critic of Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

Sleiman said in the statement that strengthening Lebanon's army is now critical.

"Lebanon is threatened by sectarian conflict and extremism," he said.

Mohammed Jamjoom contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
ISIS has captured the minds of a new generation of global jihadists. What does it mean for al Qaeda?
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0326 GMT (1126 HKT)
Think that U.S. President Barack Obama has done a back flip on Iraq and Syria? Think again.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
Treated with all due respect, volcanoes can offer some stunning vistas. Just don't fall in.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0522 GMT (1322 HKT)
The blogger, the hacker, the PM... and Kim Dotcom? New Zealand's election campaign erupts in scandal.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 0236 GMT (1036 HKT)
In the aftermath of that deadly day, the enemy quickly became clear. But now a plurality of extremist threats tests global resolve.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Soviets put stray dogs into orbit. Then, next thing you know...
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0928 GMT (1728 HKT)
Her name is Thokozile Matilda Masipa, and she is the woman who will rule whether Oscar Pistorius is a murderer.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1517 GMT (2317 HKT)
After months -- if not years -- of speculation, the tech giant's first foray into wearables has arrived. Here are our first impressions.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1241 GMT (2041 HKT)
Steven Sotloff's family believes ISIS paid rebels to alert the group about his location in Syria.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0805 GMT (1605 HKT)
Bali might be a popular tourist destination but there are crowd-free corners worth exploring.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
Scots are preparing to vote on the future of their country. Will they decide to leave the UK?
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT