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Saudis gamble on Hariri resignation to check Iranian grip on Lebanon

11 November 2017

Hariri said Hezbollah and Iran had brought Lebanon into the "eye of a storm" of international sanctions.

A few months ago Saudi Arabia more-or-less declared war on Qatar.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have been fighting the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen since 2015. "Our nation will rise just as it did before, and the hands that will harm it will be cut", said the resigned prime minister.

At first, Hariri staked out an independent position, clashing with Aoun by calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah, whose political wing was a participant in his government.

The resignation marks the end of a shaky Shia-Sunni political alliance forming the government, which has somewhat managed to keep away the violence battering neighbouring Syria. This was quickly judged to be more than a rhetorical flourish by Sabhan, as the Saudi minister stressed that Riyadh will henceforth treat Lebanon as a "hostile government".

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Hizballah is both a military and a political organisation that is represented in the Lebanese parliament and in the Hariri-led coalition government formed last year. Hariri hoped he could represent the interests of the Sunni Muslim community and that his cabinet could restore governance and stability to Lebanon.

But in the view of Hebrew University scholar Yusri Hazran, it is doubtful that the Saudi gambit will succeed in really setting back Hezbollah, because it is simply too powerful in Lebanon.

"It was an Iranian missile, launched by Hezbollah, from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen", Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir told CNN. All of Hariri's statements attested to the continuation of his future plans as prime minister.

Nasrallah said "legitimate questions" were being asked over whether Hariri had been detained in Saudi Arabia, where news emerged on Sunday that royals, ministers and investors had been arrested in an anti-corruption purge.

In the extended UNIFIL mandate, the Security Council renewed the mission with new instructions for more patrols with Lebanese forces and detailed reports when peacekeepers run into roadblocks in Hezbollah's strongholds in southern Lebanon. Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh sought to calm fears the political turmoil would hit Lebanon's already fragile economy, issuing a statement to reaffirm the stability of its currency, which is pegged against the US dollar. Hariri is Lebanon's most influential Sunni politician. "Of course, Iran is accused of interference". "When the moment of truth arrives, "Israel's" allies, with the United States in the lead, should give it full backing", he mentioned.

Saudis gamble on Hariri resignation to check Iranian grip on Lebanon