Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Saudi Arabia's decision to halt $4 billion in grants to buy arms for the Lebanese military and police reverberated across the political landscape Sunday, reflecting a state of confusion and a split within the government over how to contain the effects of the kingdom's unprecedented move. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said the Saudi decision to suspend aid for Lebanon's military and security forces was long overdue. Machnouk said he had asked Salam to hold a special Cabinet session to discuss Lebanon's foreign policy.Machnouk said the Future Movement is determined to resist the "Iranian project in Lebanon". The Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Saeed Asiri implicitly accused Iran and Hezbollah of seeking to destroy Lebanon.The mufti called on all Lebanese to show "wisdom and not to be dragged into political strife that exposes Lebanon to dangers".He also called on Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz and the Gulf Cooperation Council states not to abandon Lebanon while it is in crisis. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea applauded a decision by Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi to resign in protest at Hezbollah's "domination" of Cabinet, saying ministers had to take a stance amid the deteriorating relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
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