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 15, 2014 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
ISIS has slaughtered hundreds. Now nearly 40 nations have agreed to take the fight to the militants. But what can they do?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0926 GMT (1726 HKT)
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
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 15, 2014 -- Updated 0851 GMT (1651 HKT)
North Korea calls its human rights a "superior system."
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0929 GMT (1729 HKT)
In Wenzhou, called the "Jerusalem of China," authorities have demolished churches.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
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.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT