Saudi Arabia and Lebanon: Mischief is Afoot, is Israel Ready?

For those living under a rock, the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri unexpectedly resigned last weekend, in a new shock to the region that is just concluding its war with ISIS. This is a move that will have regional consequences, and carries with it dangerous implications. Hariri cited aggression by Iran and an attempt on his life by Hezbollah, which apparently was news to Hezbollah, who responded by blaming Saudi Arabia.

I am not one to believe anything Hezbollah says, but there are numerous details that make Hariri’s resignation distinctly intriguing. We see a lot of smoke from inside Saudi Arabia lately, particularly from the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who has proven himself to be more politically acute than his peers.

One point of interest that the media hasn’t stressed enough, is that the Lebanese prime minister made his resignation announcement inside of Saudi Arabia less than a week after his meeting with the Saudi crown prince, in which a minister, Thamer Al-Saban, is quoted saying that Saudi Arabia “is determined to take all deterrent means to Hizbollah”. Hariri continued then, to meet with King Salman before leaving for the UAE a few days later. To note, while Hariri may have resigned, his resignation is not official until accepted by the president and a successor chosen inside Lebanon, so he can still act in his status as the prime minister, and this time, without worrying about appeasing the Iranian-backed Hezbollah inside his coalition. Probably the biggest smoking gun is that Crown Prince Mohammed begun detaining other members of the royal family for corruption charges, at the same exact time Hariri made his decision public, vastly increasing Mohammad’s political power.

None of these things, however, are unusual by themselves. The middle east is known for its instability, and a surprise resignation amid an assassination attempt is par for the course. Still, the end result is that Lebanon, and the region, is a lot more destabilized, which is often taken as opportunity by Hamas and Hezbollah to attack Israel. What makes the chaos notable is that it’s all happening at once, as if filling a void left by the declining ISIS. Only a month ago, Hamas and Fatah signed a unity agreement brokered by the Egyptian government, to be disregarded by Hamas a week later with their visit to Tehran.

Before Hariri’s resignation, I would have said that everything was falling in line seamlessly with Iran’s foreign policy; but I’m not so sure now. Iran, and its terrorist satellites, is one of(if not the most) the biggest destabilizing forces in the region; while Saudi Arabia counterbalances them with stability, and are willing to resort to the sword to maintain it. While it seems Iran may have the upper hand, even they know to never underestimate the Arabs.

So a lot has been happening at once this year, and I wanted to write earlier but was unsure about what is actually going on. However, the more I see unfold, the more it becomes clear that these are not isolated incidences of power struggles, but are all related in a chain of global affairs. As it is now, everything is going to proceed one domino at a time, and a good guess is that war is at the end of it. The question is, as of this moment, who is controlling the chess board, Iran or Saudi Arabia? An even bigger question, is Israel prepared?

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