Monday, November 13, 2017

A 'Guest' of the Kingdom

Exclusive: How Saudi Arabia turned on Lebanon's Hariri, Samia Nakhoul, Laila Bassam & Tom Perry, Reuters, 11/11/17)

"From the moment Saad al-Hariri's plane touched down in Saudi Arabia on Friday Nov. 3, he was in for a surprise. There was no line-up of Saudi princes or ministry officials, as would typically greet a prime minister on an official visit to King Salman, senior sources close to Hariri and top Lebanese political and security officials said. His phone was confiscated, and the next day he was forced to resign as prime minister in a statement broadcast by a Saudi-owned TV channel.

"The move thrust Lebanon back to the forefront of a struggle that is reshaping the Middle East, between the conservative Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite revolutionary Iran. Their rivalry has fueled conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where they back opposing sides, and now risks destabilizing Lebanon, where Saudi has long tried to weaken the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, Lebanon's main political power and part of the ruling coalition.

"Sources close to Hariri say Saudi Arabia has concluded that the prime minister - a long-time Saudi ally and son of late prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005 - had to go because he was unwilling to confront Hezbollah. Multiple Lebanese sources say Riyadh hopes to replace Saad Hariri with his older brother Bahaa as Lebanon's top Sunni politician. Bahaa is believed to be in Saudi Arabia and members of the Hariri family have been asked to travel there to pledge allegiance to him, but have refused, the sources say."


Grappler said...

Interesting use of words "conservative ... Saudi Arabia" and "revolutionary Iran". I would say that recent events in Saudi Arabia are pretty revolutionary. And Iran has been a stable and fairly conservative country since Khomenei came to power in 1979, though it has had to fight a war against an aggressive neighbour. Admittedly what happened in 1979 was a revolution but how long do revolutions last? Are the post-Soviet Eastern European countries revolutionary? Is France a revolutionary country?

MERC said...

Simplistic indeed.