Published: Sat, November 11, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Saudis Deny Forcing Lebanese Prime Minister To Resign, Blame Hizballah

Saudis Deny Forcing Lebanese Prime Minister To Resign, Blame Hizballah

Hizbullah and Iran expressed the desire to maintain the stability of the regime and the calm in Lebanon. Under his leadership, the kingdom has shown a readiness to shake up the region, launching a military campaign in Yemen against rebels its sees as Iranian proxies and sparking a confrontation with Qatar in part over ties with Tehran.

"We will never accept it to be a platform for launching terrorism to our countries". It's a policy that risks sharpening several conflicts in the Middle East, even though so far it has failed to score any successes in stemming Tehran's influence.

Speaking to the Lebanese television channel LBC, Sabhan said Hariri is completely free to return to Lebanon, adding, however: "We do not want explosions and destruction to happen again in the Hariri family". His surprise withdrawal from a government that also includes Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah risked plunging the already fragile country deeper into turmoil.

Therefore, Nasrallah stressed, the decision to resign was a Saudi one imposed on the Lebanese prime minister.

Mr Hariri's father, former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, was assassinated in 2005. But over time, he acquiesced on this key issue, and Aoun's stance that Hezbollah arms are essential to defending Lebanon from Israel prevailed.

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Moreover, the UN has a longtime peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon "UNIFIL". Hariri is Lebanon's most influential Sunni politician.

Following the meeting, al-Sabhan said in a Twitter post, "Lebanon will never be the same after the resignation". Iran's military is larger and more battle-hardened than Saudi Arabia's, but the kingdom has far more advanced weaponry bought from the U.S. and Europe in the past decade.

Nasrallah heavily hinted that the message was dictated to Hariri by Saudi Arabia and that the words the Hariri used did not reflect the language of the Lebanese prime minister. In recent weeks, leading Christian politicians who oppose Hezbollah have also visited Saudi Arabia. And if there were any doubts, he made a more direct reference to Iran and its followers, threatening that Lebanon would "cut off the hands that wickedly extend into it". Removing the head of the National Guard and a one-time contender to the throne is an obvious play to consolidate power by Bin Salman.

Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat cited unnamed sources close to Hariri as speculating that he would probably remain outside Lebanon because of the security threat against him. "If the Saudis are right and it limits Hezbollah and Iran, Israel will gain".

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