Why oil collapse is forcing Saudi Arabia to cut back on its checkbook diplomacy

By Mohamad Bazzi for Reuters — On March 5, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister announced that the kingdom would complete a $4 billion arms deal with France, but instead of sending the weapons to Lebanon — as was first planned — the arms would go to the Saudi military. The kingdom cancelled the grants to arm …

The Middle East just suffered its worst drought in 900 years

By Ishaan Tharoor for The Washington Post — A NASA study has found that a drought that affected the Middle East over the past decade was perhaps the worst in the region’s history for nearly a millennium. The scientists, who published their study in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, examined the tree-ring record of the …

GCC backs Saudi move to halt Lebanon military aid

The Levant News — BEIRUT: The Gulf Cooperation Council Saturday backed a Saudi decision to reexamine its relationship with Lebanon and halt $4 billion in security grants offered to equip the country’s army and police. “GCC countries stand by Saudi Arabia’s decision that came in response to Lebanon’s official stances,” GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid …

Lebanon Foreign Ministry rejects blame in Saudi aid row

THE LEVANT NEWS — BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry Saturday defended itself against blame for compromising the $4 billion in Saudi military aid that was announced halted one day earlier. In a statement, the ministry, headed by Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil, said its critics were using the incident to launch “cheap” attacks for “political …