Walid Jumblat wants mo’ money

"In a July 7 meeting with the Ambassador and Embassy staff, Jumblatt described his recent visit to Saudi Arabia as an effort to persuade Saudi King Abdullah to fund the "March 14" political alliance as a way of blocking an ongoing wave of "Shiite expansionism" in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region. This was a reference to Hizballah; its primary backer, Iran; and their Alawite-led ally, Syria. 3. (C/NF) King Abdullah was noncommittal in a July 4 meeting in Jeddah, however. In response to Jumblatt's request, "he just looked at me," Jumblatt recalled. King Abdullah's predecessor, King Fahd, had been "more generous," Jumblatt said wistfully. 4. (C/NF) Jumblatt was candid about his needs for external funding as a "za'eem," a communal leader, in a political system in which patronage is all-important. He recalled that, when former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri was alive -- a time when Jumblatt's situation was not nearly so difficult as it is now -- Hariri subsidized him to a tune of USD three million per year. In the current situation, Jumblatt estimated that he needed at least that much, probably more. But he has not found a source to replace the generosity of Rafiq Hariri."

Posted on September 5, 2011 by As'ad