Saudis gamble on Hariri resignation to check Iranian grip on Lebanon

Lucy Bush
November 11, 2017

The election of Aoun last year was a telling indicator that the Shiite community controls access to political power in Lebanon, which Hazran called "the Shia republic".

A Saudi minister on Monday accused Lebanon of declaring war on the Gulf kingdom by failing to reign in the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group, as tensions between Riyadh and Tehran spiked over the resignation of Lebanon's prime minister and fighting in Yemen.

Bahrain on Sunday urged its citizens to avoid travelling to Lebanon and advised those already in the country to leave immediately for their safety.

Nasrallah questioned the credibility of Hariri's announcement of the resignation, which was issued in Saudi Arabia. "If Lebanon goes back to no functioning government and Hezbollah and Iran are seen as responsible for that, that damages the legitimacy of Hezbollah in Lebanon".

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Walid Jumblatt, the leader of Lebanon's Druze minority, said Lebanon was too weak to bear the consequences of Hariri's resignation, saying he feared political and economic fallout. At first blush, that would not seem consistent with King Salman and MBS's overall desire to confront Iran's proxies on every front.

Nasrallah ignored the published reports that there was a plan to assassinate Hariri in Lebanon.

"What's the difference between Hezbollah and ISIS?" he asked. News of high-level arrests in Saudi Arabia fuelled social media speculation in Lebanon that Hariri, a Saudi national, was a target.

In Lebanon's sectarian system the president must be a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker of parliament a Shi'ite.

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"The Saudis want to create a situation of political crisis, to break the political stability in Lebanon so that Hezbollah will be more busy in Lebanese internal politics than in Syria", he said.

On Tuesday, Al-Akhbar, a pro-Hizballah Lebanese daily, claimed he was under house arrest in Riyadh with his family, a claim denied by Saudi Arabia. Iran was sowing strife, destruction and ruin wherever it went and accused it of a "deep hatred for the Arab nation", he said. "But if the Saudis fail and Hezbollah strengthens its position and has more room to maneuver, we will lose", said Shavit.

Hariri has visited Saudi Arabia twice in the past week, meeting Crown Prince Mohammed and other senior officials.

Moreover, the UN has a longtime peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon "UNIFIL".

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The United States is considering new sanctions on Hezbollah, as part of a tougher stance against Iran and its allies, that Lebanese politicians have fretted could hurt the economy.

Other reports by Info About Network

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