President Michel Aoun asked Lebanon’s security forces to step up operations against smuggling after Saudi Arabia banned the import of Lebanese commodities, what it called a rise in the illicit drug trade. Aoun spoke at the start of a meeting on the topic with caretaker prime minister Hassan Diab.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia announced a ban on the import of fruits and vegetables from Lebanon, citing an increase in drug smuggling, in a measure that will add to Lebanon’s economic woes. The fruit and vegetable trade is worth $24 million annually.
On Monday, Diab held that Lebanon stood ready to fight smuggling networks with Saudi Arabia but that a ban would not prevent it. “We are confident that Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf countries know well that a ban on Lebanese produce will not stop drug smuggling and cooperation between us will help stop these networks”, he said.
Lebanon has been fighting a massive socio-economic crisis that has also ravaged the country’s political scene. The crisis was further aggravated with a massive explosion in the port of Beirut, which has caused 215 deaths, 7,500 injuries, and $15 billion in property damage in and around the proximity of the port, leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.