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Saudi anti-terrorism coalition raises eyebrows in Lebanon

Saudi Arabia’s anti-terrorism Islamic coalition has sparked mixed reactions in Lebanon as some parties had no idea their country was a listed member.
Lebanese army soldiers stand with displayed weapons that they received during a ceremony at Beirut airport airbase April 20, 2015. The first shipment of French weapons and military equipment arrived in Lebanon on Monday under a Saudi-funded deal worth $3 billion to bolster the Lebanese army's fight against militants encroaching from neighboring Syria. The Saudi Arabia's national flag is displayed during the ceremony. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir  - RTX19H7S
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Saudi Arabia's recent decision to launch the Islamic Military Alliance immediately prompted a plethora of both supportive and hostile reactions in Lebanon. The terrorism-fighting coalition supposedly includes Lebanon and 33 other countries, but excludes Iran, Syria and Iraq. Representatives of several countries said they were unaware they had been enlisted as coalition members when it was announced Dec. 15.

As some parties in Lebanon supported the step — such as the Future Movement, a Sunni force allied with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — others such as the pro-Iran Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement rushed to object. This deepened the already heated domestic division between pro-Iranian and pro-Saudi parties in Lebanon. It has also heated up the Lebanese political scene and weakened the government, in light of the different ministerial stances on the Saudi initiative.

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