Lebanon could be receiving French arms to fight against the ISIS before the end of the year if Saudi Arabia and France conclude the deal on Tuesday. Negotiations between Riyadh and Paris started in December last year after Lebanon called for military aid because its fight against ISIS militants requires weapons that it does not possess. Lebanon received a billion dollar, from Saudi Arabia, to strengthen its security ahead of the deal’s conclusion.
According to a French source close to the dossier, the deal with be finalized on Tuesday in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is funding $3 billion worth of French weapons for the Lebanese army. He added that the deal “be rapidly implemented” by France while a daily Saudi newspaper, Al Hayat, reported that Lebanon could receive the first shipment “within a month.” Saudi’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Al Assad and Edouard Guillaud and the head of the ODAS organization set up by France for the export of defense equipment are expected to represent their two governments respectively.
The early arrival of the weapons will be a huge relief to the Lebanese army which is struggling to contain jihadists, including from the ISIS, in the north and along its border with war-torn Syria. In September, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said they are “impatiently” waiting for the weapons.
Army Chief Jean Kahwaji acknowledged during the month of August that they are ill equipped and warned that “this battle [with the jihadists and ISIS] requires equipment, materiel and technology that the army doesn’t have.”
The ISIS has been of major concern to countries bordering Iraq and Syria. Minister Bassil urged for an international “common front” to fight against the ISIS because they pose a threat to regional security.