The Gulf state previously dismissed claims over having a preferred Lebanese presidential candidate.
A Qatari envoy is reportedly heading to Lebanon next week to meet with several political powers in the country, local Lebanese media reported, weeks after similar meetings with various parties in Beirut.
Sources privy to the matter informed Lebanese news outlet Al Akhbar on Wednesday that Qatar’s Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Mohammed Al Khulaifi would reportedly return for more meetings.
“The political powers have yet to be informed of any request to schedule the visit, but the return of Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, who visited Lebanon weeks ago in an exploratory visit, is confirmed unless developments occur,” Al Akhbar reported.
No Qatari official confirmed the alleged visit.
Last month, Qatar’s Al Khulaifi met with Aoun and other Lebanese officials from different parties in Beirut.
During the first day of his trip to Beirut, Dr. Al Khulaifi met with officials from religious and political sides, including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and Caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib.
Dr. Al Khulaifi also met with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Latif Derian and Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi.
Before concluding his visit, the Qatari envoy met with Free Patriotic Movement leader Jebran Bassil and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
Dr. Majed Al Ansari, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson said last month that it was an “exploratory”visit.
“The Qatari position is to support reaching an agreement among the Lebanese themselves,” Dr. Al Ansari told the press on 11 April.
The visit comes as the Lebanese presidency remains vacant after the retreat of former President Michel Aoun from office in October last year.
Speaking to Al Akhbar, the source noted that “the Qatari envoy will not carry anything new regarding the presidential file, nor will he announce any name”. They added that the upcoming alleged visit will build on the previous one.
The Gulf state had also dismissed previous media reports over Qatar’s alleged support of Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun as a potential presidential candidate.
Dr. Al Ansari dismissed claims that Doha has a “preferred” Lebanese presidency candidate, saying that “it is inappropriate to talk about the existence of an external party that has a preferred candidate” in Lebanon.
“What Qatar and the Arab countries can offer regarding the Lebanese crisis is to support the Lebanese to reach a consensus that will lead Lebanon out of its current crisis,” Dr. Al Ansari said, as quoted by Al Araby Al Jadeed on 11 April.
In February, representatives of various countries – Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Egypt, France -met in Paris to discuss a possible roadmap for the country and officials in attendance warned that an absence of presidential elections may drive them to reconsider ties with Beirut.
Lebanon has been in a state of paralysis since 2019 that has forced its economy to hit an all time low, especially with the Lebanese currency losing more than 90% of its value to the US dollar.
The Covid-19 outbreak coupled with the devastating Beirut blast of 2020 have exacerbated the already-dwindling conditions in Lebanon.
The public has blamed the situation on corrupt politicians, as well as prevalent sectarianism within the government.