Déjà Vu im Libanon - Saudis und Libanon 2016

Libanonkrise 2016: Die von den Saudis ausgelöste Libanon-Krise vom November ist halbwegs ausgestanden - da sollte man an die ebenfalls von ihnen ausgelöste Krise von Februar 2016 erinnern
Bei diesem Beitrag handelt es sich um ein Blog aus der Freitag-Community

English summary: The November 2017 Lebanon crisis seems to be out of the worst - now it makes sense to remind the Lebanon crisis of February / March 2016, which also had been provoked by Saudi threats and actions. Sources, mainly in English, below in part 3

1. Libanon, Hisbollah, Saudis und westliche Doppelmoral 2017

Im Libanon scheint sich die politische Krise, die die Saudis mit der Festsetzung von Ministerpräsident Hariri und ihre Drohgebärden ausgelöst hatten, erst einmal beruhigt zu haben. Der Druck auf die zerbrechliche politische Balance des Landes hat damit wieder nachgelassen, ohne aber damit schon überstanden zu sein.

Erstaunlich ist, dass bei all den Berichten über diese neueste Krise des Libanon offenbar kaum jemand einen Blick nur 1 ½ Jahre zurück auf den Februar und März 2016 getan hat, als mit ganz ähnlichem Vorwand die Saudis und ihre Verbündeten den Libanon ins Visier nahmen und durch Drohungen und politische und wirtschaftliche Maßnahmen das Land unter Druck zu setzen versuchten.

Ich hatte dazu Artikel und Quellen gesammelt und einen eigenen zusammenfassenden Text geschrieben, dann blieb es aber liegen. Die Angelegenheit schien sich dann im Sande verlaufen zu haben und das Thema nicht mehr aktuell zu sein. Mit dem erneuten saudischen Druck auf den Libanon (siehe Artikelsammlungen im Freitag https://www.freitag.de/autoren/dklose/libanon-mosaik-lebanon-mosaic-9 und ältere) lohnt sich dieser Rückblick allemal. Es zeigt sich ein gemeinsames Grundmuster – und es dürfte klar werden, dass es nur eine Frage der Zeit ist, bis die Saudis wieder auf den Libanon losgehen werden.

Rückblickend auf die jüngst hoffentlich gerade halbwegs ausgestandene Krise im Libanon lässt sich grundsätzlich feststellen, dass ganz offensichtlich sich doch keine der politischen Fraktionen und Allianzen des Libanon von außen erneut in einen fundamentalen Konflikt hineintreiben lassen will – der im Libanon durchaus wieder in einen verhängnisvollen Bürgerkrieg münden könnte. Fast krampfhaft bemühen sich alle Parteien, trotz der schier unüberbrückbaren – seit Jahrzehnten bestehenden, letztlich unlösbaren – Gegensätzen um ein möglichst großes Maß an politischer Normalität – oder das, was man unter libanesischen Verhältnissen darunter versteht.

So betonen alle, dass man weiter miteinander verhandelt, im Gespräch bleibt und dass „Partnerschaft“ unerlässlich ist. Der Tonfall bleibt allgemein versöhnlich, das alltägliche Hickhack hört damit natürlich nicht auf.

Das Hauptproblem, das letztlich kaum lösbar ist, ist die Doppelrolle der Hisbollah, der wichtigsten Vertreterin der libanesischen Schiiten, als politische Partei wie als bewaffnete Miliz. Als einzige Gruppierung im Libanon hatte sich die Hisbollah nach dem Ende des libanesischen Bürgerkriegs nicht an die Abmachung gehalten, nach der sich alle Milizen entwaffnen sollten. Ihre Miliz verschafft der Hisbollah nun ein ständig wachsendes Gewicht im innerlibanesischen Machtpoker, wodurch sich das Gleichgewicht allmählich zu ihrem Vorteil verschoben hat.

Das wäre freilich in erster Linie ein innerlibanesisches innenpolitisches Problem, wenn der bewaffnete Arm der Hisbollah nicht auch in bewaffneten Konflikten außerhalb des Libanon mitmischen würde. Derzeit sind bewaffnete Kämpfer der Hisbollah im Irak auf Seiten der irakischen Regierung im Kampf gegen den IS sowie im Syrienkonflikt auf Seiten der Assad-Regierung im Kampf gegen den IS sowie gegen islamistische Aufständische (im Westen als „Rebellen“ verniedlicht) verwickelt. Was den Jemen angeht, ist die angebliche Beteiligung der Hisbollah freilich nicht mehr als saudische Propaganda.

Viele Libanesen sehen den Einsatz der Hisbollah in Syrien im Übrigen durchaus positiv. So zweifelhaft das Verhalten der Assad-Regierungen (Sohn wie schon Vater Assad) dem Libanon auch immer war – Libanon wurde von Syrien wie ein Satellitenstatt behandelt – gilt den Libanesen die Assad-Regierung derzeit doch als die bestmögliche Variante. Viele befürchten bei einem Erfolg der islamistischen „Rebellen“ in Syrien einen heftigen islamistischen Druck auf den Libanon, der dann vor allem die christlichen und schiitischen Teile der Bevölkerung treffen würde, so wie in Syrien und im Irak auf erschreckende Weise vorgeführt.

Unabhängig davon verstoßen die Auslandseinsätze der Hisbollah gegen einen wesentlichen Grundsatz, zu dem sich die libanesischen Gruppierungen verpflichtet hatten: sich in keine Konflikte im Ausland einzumischen und dort neutral zu bleiben. Eine solche Einmischung libanesischer Parteien und Milizen im Ausland birgt immer die Gefahr eines negativen Rückschlags auf den ganzen Libanon, sei er politisch, wirtschaftlich oder schlimmstenfalls auch militärisch. Diese negativen Auswirkungen könnten sich für den Libanon schnell lebensbedrohlich auswirken: Als wichtiges Dienstleistungszentrum der arabischen Welt ist der Libanon erheblich vom arabischen Ausland abhängig; vom militärischen Gesichtspunkt aus ist der kleine Libanon von viel größeren und stärkeren Ländern eingekeilt.

Es ist damit das gute Recht und geradezu schon die nationale Pflicht von Ministerpräsident Hariri, die aktive Teilnahme der Hisbollah an auswärtigen bewaffneten Konflikten zu kritisieren und ein Ende solcher Aktivitäten zu verlangen – zumal sich alle libanesischen Parteien ja ausdrücklich dazu verpflichtet hatten. Hatte zudem doch Hariri selbst gerade zuvor am eigenen Leib erfahren, wie so eine Bedrohung aussehen kann, als ihn im November die Saudis im November quasi als Geisel festgesetzt hatten.

Ganz anders sieht das freilich aus, wenn die Saudis und ihre westlichen Verbündeten, hier allen voran die USA, sich über die Einmischung der Hisbollah im Ausland, vor allem in Syrien, echauffieren. Schließlich mischen sich Amerikaner wie Saudis selbst hemmungslos im Ausland ein – das ist ja nichts Neues. Sie stehen der Hisbollah hier also in nichts nach – ganz im Gegenteil. Sowohl im Irak als vor allem auch in Syrien hat die Hisbollah auf ausdrückliche Bitte der legitimen und von der UN anerkannten Regierung hin eingegriffen, und das ist in Syrien eben die Regierung von Präsident Assad.

Die Unterstützung der USA und der Saudis in Syrien dagegen gehört „Rebellen“ gegen die legitime Regierung (bzw. zum großen Teil Terroristen, wenn man sich diese „Rebellen“ näher ansieht). Das Eingreifen der Hisbollah hat in Syrien also eine legitime Basis – ganz anders als das Eingreifen der USA und der Saudis.

Was die amerikanische und natürlich ebenso die saudische Propaganda nicht daran hindert, das Eingreifen der Hisbollah in Syrien lauthals zu verdammen – als wären ihre eigenen Ansprüche auf ein Eingreifen in Syrien nicht noch viel dünner. Aber in diesem Fall sind die USA auf „Regime change“ aus, und gut ist immer das, was die USA machen. Also ein typischer Fall von (auf jeden Fall blutiger) Doppelmoral.

Amerikaner wie Saudis schaffen es freilich problemlos, aus einer Doppelmoral auch noch eine Dreifachmoral zu machen. Denn während sie in dem einen Land einen Regime change betreiben und dann diejenigen, die auf Seiten der anerkannten Regierung kämpfen, verteufeln (ganz einfach, weil sie den eigenen Regime change-Ambitionen hinderlich sind), stützen in einem anderen Land ein ihnen (aus welchen Gründen auch immer) erwünschtes Regime – mit allen, wirklich allen, Mitteln. Das könne n dann schon mal von den USA ausgebildete Todesschwadronen sein, die dann etwa 200.000 Menschen in Guatemala und 50.000 in El Salvador umgebracht haben, oder jetzt eben die Saudis im Jemen, die einen von etwa 20 Millionen Menschen bewohnten Landesteil in die Steinzeit bomben und in die Hungerkatastrophe blockieren.

Im Fall des Jemen wird für das alles die „Legitimität“ der dadurch unterstützten Regierung als Begründung angeführt; das kann theoretisch offenbar bis zur völligen Auslöschung von Land und Leuten so weitergehen. Und das, obwohl obendrein der Rückhalt dieser „legitimen“ Regierung in der Bevölkerung äußerst gering ist und obwohl ihre Amtszeit bereits (spätestens) am 27. Februar 2015, also vier Wochen VOR dem saudisch-amerikanischen Überfall, zu Ende gegangen war.

Aber auch das ist völlig gleichgültig, wenn es um die Durchsetzung eigener Interessen geht.

Damit bin ich vom Libanon zum Jemen abgeschweift, mit dem ich auch meinen Text vom März 2016 begonnen hatte. Denn wie auch dieses Jahr bildete auch schon im Februar 2016 das behauptete Eingreifen der Hisbollah im Jemenkrieg auf Seiten der Huthis einen der Vorwände für das saudische Vorgehen gegen den Libanon. Das Land erlebte zu diesem Zeitpunkt eine langdauernde Regierungskrise; die Parteien hatten sich nicht auf einen Kandidaten für die Präsidentenwahl einigen können, der damalige Ministerpräsident Tammam Salam hatte am 15. Februar eine „Regierung der Nationalen Einheit“ gebildet.

2. Text vom ca. 8. März 2016: Libanon, Hisbollah, Jemen und Saudis 2016

Die international anerkannte und von Saudi-Arabien abhängige Regierung des Jemen hat neue Vorwürfe gegen die Huthi-Rebellen erhoben. Diese würden von der schiitischen Hisbollah-Miliz aus dem Libanon unterstützt. Die Hisbollah-Leute würden die Huthi-Kämpfer trainieren und die Angriffe im Nordwesten gegen saudisches Territorium koordinieren. Die jemenitische Regierung verfüge über eindeutige Beweise, die man der UN vorlegen wolle. Es war u. a. von gefallenen Hisbollah-Kämpfern die Rede.

Diese Vorwürfe sind im Grunde nicht neu. Es war immer wieder einmal von Verbindungen der Huthis zur Hisbollah die Rede. Beweise dafür wurden aber keine vorgelegt. Es hat auch wenig Wahrscheinlichkeit für sich, dass die Hisbollah für die Huthis eine besondere Rolle spielen würde: Die Blockade des Jemen durch die Saudis, zudem die starke Reduzierung des Flugverkehrs machen es völlig unmöglich, dass in größerer Zahl Hisbollah-Leute nach dem Jemen kommen könnten. Der Jemen ist eine der am stärksten bewaffneten Gesellschaften der Welt; die Huthis führten seit 2004 einen bewaffneten Kampf gegen die Regierung in Sanaa, gegen die Saudis wie gegen sonstige Widersacher: Da braucht man kein Training durch die Hisbollah mehr. Bereits bei früheren Kämpfen hatten die Huthis auch saudisches Territorium besetzt, und mittlerweile stehen ihnen ja auch große Teile der jemenitischen Armee zur Seite: Sie brauchen also auch keine taktische Unterstützung durch irgendjemanden wie die Hisbollah mehr.

Die angebliche oder tatsächliche Hisbollah-Connection der Huthis soll natürlich einmal mehr dazu dienen, die Behauptung einer iranischen Einmischung im Jemen zu stützen. Dass diese Unterstützung in wenig mehr besteht als moralischer Unterstützung, entsprechend positiver Berichterstattung – von „Cheerleading“ der Iraner für die Huthis wurde einmal gesprochen – wurde immer wieder hervorgehoben.

Es ist freilich überhaupt kein Zufall, dass die (im Grunde alte) Geschichte der Hisbollah-Connection im Jemen gerade jetzt wieder aufgewärmt wird. Denn diese Geschichte gehört in einen weit größeren Zusammenhang, bei dem es nur am Rande um den Jemen geht. Denn die Saudis haben offensichtlich ein neues Ziel: den Libanon. Und das auch nicht von ungefähr, und auch nicht, weil ihnen jetzt plötzlich der Libanon so wichtig geworden wäre.

Dass die saudische Außenpolitik seit dem Regierungsantritt von König Salman und der Ernennung seines erst etwa 30jährigen Lieblingssohnes Prinz Mohammed zum Stellvertretenden Kronprinzen und Verteidigungsminister einen gewaltigen Schub in Richtung Aggressivität bekommen hat, haben Beobachter immer wieder hervorgehoben. Folgen dieser Politik sind der Krieg im Jemen, das verstärkte Eingreifen der Saudis in Syrien, die provozierte Abkühlung des Verhältnisses zum Iran durch die Hinrichtung des schiitischen Oppositionellen al Nimr. Und nun also der Libanon.

Aber warum gerade jetzt? Es geht, wie gesagt, nur am Rand um den Libanon. Hauptziel der saudischen Aggression (um dieses Wort hier im erweiterten Sinn zu gebrauchen, auch eine Politik noch ohne einen militärischen Angriff kann „aggressiv“ sein) ist Syrien – und, immer im Hinterkopf zu denken, die fast schon pathologisch zu nennende Gegnerschaft zum Iran, dessen Machenschaften überall vermutet werden.

In der Tat gehört die Hisbollah in Syrien zu den Gegnern der Saudis. Die Saudis haben ja nie einen Hehl daraus gemacht, dass ihnen in Syrien vor allem daran gelegen ist, Präsident Assad zu stürzen. Das hat erst kürzlich Außenminister Jubeir wieder in verschiedenen Interviews bekräftigt. Dabei nehmen sich die Saudis, als wäre es eine der größten Selbstverständlichkeiten überhaupt, das Recht heraus, von sich aus über die Zukunft Syriens zu entscheiden, und zum Erreichen dieser Entscheidung selbstverständlich militärische Mittel einzusetzen, also sich in Syrien militärisch einzumischen. Dass ein Einmarsch der Saudis in Syrien – den sie durch ein Großmanöver ganz im Norden Saudi-Arabiens, also möglichst nahe an Syrien, derzeit vorbereiten – in vielerlei Hinsicht ein Desaster wäre, wird jedem einleuchten, der sich vorstellt, zu was für einer Konfrontation das dann mit Assads Schutzmacht Russland zwangsläufig kommen wird.

Und die Hisbollah aus dem Libanon kämpft auf Seiten Assads gegen die verschiedenen Rebellengruppen und den IS, ist eine wichtige Stütze seiner Herrschaft. Diese Stütze wollen die Saudis schwächen.

Deshalb wird die Hisbollah im Jemen jetzt plötzlich Thema. Es geht einmal darum, international Stimmung gegen die Hisbollah zu machen. Als ein Todfeind des Staates Israel – von Israel daher als Terrororganisation klassifiziert – hat die Hisbollah in den USA einen äußerst üblen Ruf. Das ist aber nur das eine. Das andere ist es natürlich, der Hisbollah in ihrem Stammland, dem Libanon, Schwierigkeiten zu machen und möglichst viel Boden zu entziehen. Und genau das haben die Saudis jetzt vor.

Im Libanon spielt die Hisbollah vor allem auch eine politische Rolle. Sie ist keineswegs nur eine kämpfende Miliz (das natürlich auch), sondern vor allem eine politische Kraft als der wichtigste Vertreter einer der großen religiösen Gruppen im Land. Die Schiiten machen im Libanon 27 % der Bevölkerung aus. Ebenfalls 27 % sind Sunniten, 21 % maronitische Christen, 20 % sonstige Christen, 5 % Drusen. Das Verhältnis der verschiedenen Religionen und der sie vertretenden politischen Gruppierungen ist alles andere als spannungsfrei. Ein kompliziertes Regelwerk versucht, alle religiösen Gruppen und Parteiungen in die Regierung des Landes einzubinden. Wohl oder übel müssen sie miteinander auskommen und sich arrangieren.

Die Alternative dazu wäre fürchterlich, und der Libanon hat sie bis zur Neige durchlitten. Von 1975 bis 1990 hat ein Bürgerkrieg das Land verwüstet. Richtig zur Ruhe kam das Land kaum: Attentate, Straßenkämpfe, 2006 ein Krieg zwischen der Hisbollah und Israel, innere Krisen suchten das Land heim. So sollte es nicht verwundern, wenn im Libanon sehr viele kein Interesse an einer Neuauflage von Krieg und Krise haben und darum bemüht sind, das bestehende zerbrechliche, aber vergleichsweise friedliche Gleichgewicht im Lande zu bewahren.

Der Libanon ist, vom politischen System her, eine parlamentarische Demokratie, eine der ganz wenigen in der arabischen Welt, und damit ein Lichtblick gegenüber den Despotien der Saudis und der Golfstaaten. Er ist ein multireligiöser Staat, in dem Muslime verschiedener Bekenntnisse und Christen (wieder) miteinander (oder besser, aber immerhin: nebeneinander) leben, ohne mit aller Gewalt übereinander herzufallen.

Derzeit wird das Land von einer großen Koalition aus allen wichtigen Strömungen und Religionen regiert (1) Premierminister ist der Sunnit Tammam Salam (parteilos [Stand Feb. 2016!!]), ein fast einstimmig gewählter Konsenskandidat. Die der Regierung angehörenden Parteien verteilen sich auf zwei in ihrer allgemeinen Orientierung gegenüberstehenden Blocks: die prowestliche „Allianz des 14. März“ (Zukunftsbewegung, sunnitisch, und Kataeb Partei, christlich) sowie die antiwestliche und prosyrische „Allianz des 8. März“ (Freie Patriotische Bewegung, christlich, Marada und Tashnag, beide christlich, Amal-Bewegung, schiitisch, und Hisbollah, schiitisch). Weiterhin gibt es eine Reihe unabhängiger Minister verschiedener Konfession. Die „Progressive Sozialistische Partei“ der Drusen gehört keiner der beiden „Koalitionen“ an.

Schon diese Auflistung lässt ahnen, durch welche großen politischen und religiösen Gegensätze diese Regierung – so wie das ganze Land – geprägt ist. Es ist klar, dass die Sunniten außenpolitisch den Saudis und den Golfstaaten zuneigen, während es die Schiiten mit dem Iran und Syriens Assad halten. Dieses Land zu regieren, ist wie ein Balanceakt auf dem Hochseil.

Ungeachtet der entgegengesetzten Vorlieben der einzelnen Parteien kann sich der Gesamtstaat Libanon außenpolitisch weder in die eine noch in die andere Richtung festlegen, die beiden entgegengesetzten Lager zwingen den Staat in eine mittlere, neutrale Position. Das kommt freilich immerhin der traditionellen Rolle des Landes und vor allem der Hauptstadt Beirut als einer allen offenstehenden Drehscheibe des Nahen Ostens, als Handels-, Wirtschafts-, Banken- und Kulturzentrum entgegen.

Das hindert einen einzelnen Akteur wie gerade die militante Hisbollah freilich nicht daran, eine Art eigene Außen- und Militärpolitik zu betreiben und in Richtung auf die Nachbarländer auch mit militärischer Gewalt zu agieren. Hierher gehören Angriffe auf israelisches Gebiet im Süden bzw. Feuergefechte mit der israelischen Armee über die Grenze sowie das Eingreifen der Hisbollah im syrischen Bürgerkrieg. Während man nun Angriffe auf den Nachbarstaat Israel im Süden als Akte der Aggression ansehen muss – die natürlich die Einstellung der Israelis gegenüber dem Libanon insgesamt nicht gerade positiv befördern – verhält es sich mit dem Eingreifen in Syrien völlig anders.

Denn das wird bei uns hier wie auch von der saudischen Propaganda gegenüber der Hisbollah gerne unterschlagen: Die Regierung Assad ist nach wie vor die legitime Regierung von Syrien – daran kann auch die ganze westliche Propaganda der letzten Jahre nichts ändern – d. h. sie ist nach dem Völkerrecht auch dazu berechtigt, ausländische Mächte und Gruppierungen um militärischen Beistand zu bitten und ins Land zu holen. Dass die Hisbollah in Syrien an der Seite von Assad kämpft, ist in Übereinstimmung mit dem Völkerrecht. Das gilt ebenso für das Eingreifen Russlands. Alle anderen Staaten agieren dort ohne und gegen den Willen der legitimen Regierung und damit gegen das Völkerrecht: die USA, alle westlichen Staaten, Deutschland inklusive, die Türkei und natürlich die Saudis.

Insbesondere gegen die Hisbollah in Syrien – Jemen ist hier nur Nebenkriegsschauplatz, militärisch wie in der Propaganda – richtet sich nun die saudische Wut. Völkerrechtlich sind diese Wut und die daraus erwachsenden Drohungen gegen den Libanon nicht zu rechtfertigen, wie gesagt, das Eingreifen der Hisbollah in Syrien ist vom Völkerrecht gedeckt, das der Saudis aber nicht. Den Saudis gehen auch hier freilich ihre eigenen Interessen, gepaart mit ihren politischen, militärischen und wirtschaftlichen Möglichkeiten, vor irgendwelchen völkerrechtlichen Erwägungen. Als die selbstverständlichste Sache der Welt nehmen sich die Saudis hier das Recht heraus, darüber zu bestimmen, wer in Syrien politisch in der Zukunft eine Rolle spielen wird; ebenso das Recht, in Syrien militärisch einzugreifen und in das Land einzumarschieren – und jetzt auch, im Libanon zu keilen und damit das Land in echte Gefahr zu bringen.

Es ist leicht verständlich, dass die labile, bis jetzt noch den Frieden im Land wahrende Balance nun durch den saudischen Druck auf den Libanon, in der Summe könnte man auch sagen durch die saudischen Pöbeleien, stark gefährdet und bedroht wird – mit allen Konsequenzen, die das für den Libanon haben kann.

Es ist genau die für den inneren Frieden des Libanon notwenige außenpolitische Neutralität, auf die Saudi-Arabien nun abzielt. Der Libanon hatte es vermieden, sich in dem zunehmenden saudisch-iranischen Konflikt zu positionieren. Saudi-Arabien hatte der Sturm einer aufgebrachten Menge auf die saudische Botschaft in Teheran dazu benutzt, um die Beziehungen zum Iran weiter gezielt zu verschlechtern und sich dabei zugleich der Solidarität der islamisch-sunnitischen Staaten zu versichern

Die politischen Keilereien innerhalb der libanesischen Politik haben auch sofort angefangen. Prowestliche (und das heißt hier auch: prosaudische) sunnitische und christliche Politiker teilen bereits gegen Hisbollah und die antiwestlichen Christen aus, so Innenminister Nouhad al-Mashnouq (Sunnit), der kürzlich zurückgetretene Justizminister Ashraf Rifi (Sunnit), Antoine Zahra von der christlichen Partei Lebanese Forces und Albert Kostanian von der christlichen Kataeb Partei.

(1) Zu den Regierungen im Libanon siehe:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanese_government_of_December_2016

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_Lebanon#February_2014_cabinet

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanese_government_of_April_2013

3. Libanonkrise 2016: Quellen in loser chronologischer Folge / Lebanon crisis 2016: Sources in a loose chronological order

A = Aktuell / News

B = Hintergrund / Background

Bewertung / Rating: **, *, ohne Stern / no star

10.1.2016 – Sputnik News (A)

Lebanon's FM Refuses to Support Arab League Statement CondemningIran

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has refused to support the Arab League resolution condemning Iran, an Arab League statement said Sunday.

Arab League member states' foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday over the ongoing diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The meeting's closing statement accused Tehran of "provocative acts," while Lebanon, as well as Iraq, abstained from voting on the statement, reports said.

"We protest the statement due to its mentioning of the Lebanese Hezbollah organization and accusations of terrorist activity. It [Hezbollah] is represented in the country's parliament and government, and thus we demanded removal of the expression for Lebanon's position to be identical with the common decision," Bassil said.

http://sputniknews.com/politics/20160110/1032912613/bassil-iran-condemn.html

25.2.2016 – Ahram Online (* A)

Keeping Syria, losing Yemen?

The mounting Saudi/Gulf-Iranian friction over Syria is mirrored in other arenas, most notably in Yemen. But it has also re-emerged over Lebanon. This is not a surprise. The Taef Agreement has always left Lebanon a major barometer in the Syrian-Gulf-Iranian triangle.

When Saudi Arabia freezes some $4 billion that it pays to Lebanon to help finance security-related expenses for forces and weapons, it would naturally have numerous repercussions and these would reverberate through the discourses that reflect the polarisation in Lebanon between the 14 March and 8 March alliances.

This applies in particular to the leader of the Future Movement (the core of the 14 March alliance)) Saad Al-Hariri, and Hassan Nasrallah, the friction between whom most epitomises the conflict over Lebanese identity as Arab versus an Iranian “hostage” state, as Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel put it. More dramatically, this was manifested in a spate of cabinet resignations, the most recent at the time of writing being that of Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea warned that other resignations would follow if Lebanon’s friendly relations with Saudi Arabia were further threatened— a veiled reference to Hezbollah’s activities.

In this context, the prominent Saudi political commentator Abdel Rahman Al-Rashed wrote inAsharq Al-Awsat, beneath the headline, “When Lebanon becomes an Iranian colony”: “When Saudi Arabia decided to allocate a huge sum — $3 billion for the army and another $1 billion for security forces — to develop their capacities and train them, it did not stipulate that Lebanon, in return, should engage in foreign wars or join regional alliances.

Rather, the aim was to strengthen the central authorities and to support the institutions of the Lebanese state in the face of bullying militias, to fight extremist organisations and to fill the vacuum that arose following the withdrawal of Syrian forces in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution issued following the Al-Assad regime’s involvement in the assassination of Rafiq Al-Hariri.”

Al-Rashed continued: “But as Saudi Arabia was lending a hand to strengthen the state, Hezbollah reached out its hand to seize control of it, not content with the large share that it already had. It then turned Lebanese military institutions to the service of its own ends in the war in Syria and it used the foreign ministry to support Iranian positions in international forums.

In addition, it dared to exploit the banking system, reputed to be one of the best in the region, to engage in illicit arms and drugs trading in various parts of the world.” – by Ahmed Aleiba

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/188474/World/Region/Keeping-Syria,-losing-Yemen.aspx

25.2.2016 – The Media Line / Assyrian News Agency (* A)

Lebanon, the Latest Battlefield in Iran/Saudi Arabia Rivalry

Behind the dance, politics can is very much at play, Sanam Vakil, an associate fellow at Chatham House, told The Media Line. “The Gulf countries are trying to send a very strong message, first to Lebanon and then to the rest of the region that (Iran’s) meddling is no longer going to be tolerated.”

Many of the Gulf Sunni states feel that Iran’s “bad behavior” – its use of proxy actors to spread its influence around the region – was legitimized by the nuclear deal the country signed with world powers last year, Vakil said. “There’s a feeling that nobody (Europe or America) is doing enough and that the region has to stand up to Iran,” the analyst explained.

Not everyone agrees. There are two main reasons for the travel warnings issued by the Gulf States, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of political science from the UAE, told The Media Line. First and foremost is the security of Gulf citizens.

Iran’s proxy agent in Lebanon represents the second reason. “Hizbullah is launching a campaign against anything and everything which is Saudi or from the Gulf and this is one response to this kind of hate message,” the professor said. To suggest that Saudi Arabia’s rivalry with Iran was the underlying reason would be “bending the facts” since the feud has been running for several years already and the travel ban has only just been announced, he insisted.

The ongoing regional rivalry between the two Middle Eastern powers is waged on a number of fronts, Alam Saleh, a lecturer in Middle Eastern politics at Exeter University, told The Media Line. Economically the price of oil is used as a weapon, militarily proxy battles are waged in Syria, and domestically both states use their opponent’s ethnic minorities as a tool, Saleh said. “They are using all instruments and any means to undermine the other’s interests… Lebanon is another playing field,” the politics lecturer noted.

How you view the implications of the dispute depends on how much power you believe Iran has over Beirut. Lebanon is a country with a diverse sectarian population, split between Christians, Sunnis, Shi’ites, and others. This gives Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran a certain leverage.

For Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, Hizbullah is the dominant force in Lebanese politics, a force that answers directly to the Ayatollahs in Tehran, placing Lebanon firmly in Iran’s camp. “Iranian officials have said time and again that they have Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and even Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, under their control,” he concluded.

To suggest Iran controls Lebanon does not correspond to facts on the ground, Sanam Vakil argued. “It’s overly simplistic. There are so many factions working in Lebanon,” she pointed out. The same is true for the extent to which Hizbullah controls the country, an assessment which should not be exaggerated, the Chatham House analyst said. “There are nuanced political forces at work in Lebanon. Hizbullah is only one of the many political actors at work in the country.”

It is the $4 billion military aid package, “the billions being spent on the Lebanese army (in order) to gain influence in Beirut” which is the significant factor here and not the travel warnings, Alam Saleh argued. The fact that Saudi Arabia withdrew this money shows that it has given up trying to ‘buy’ Lebanon, and demonstrates Iran’s ascendency there, the Exeter University academic said.

Iran, he noted, has suggested it will fill the spending gap in the Lebanese military budget. This will increase its sway over Lebanon, beyond Hizbullah’s heartland in the south of the country, as Tehran deepens its influence over the Lebanese military, Saleh concluded – by Robert Swift

http://www.themedialine.org/news/lebanon-the-latest-battlefield-in-iransaudi-arabia-rivalry/ = http://www.aina.org/news/20160225131745.htm

25.2.2016 – AP at Washington Post (* A)

Saudi piles pressure on Lebanon for siding with Iran

Lebanon is getting hammered by punishments from a furious Saudi Arabia, which has cut off billions in aid and told its citizens not to visit the country, in an escalating diplomatic crisis that was prompted by Beirut’s siding with Iran against the kingdom and that now threatens to wreck Lebanon’s fragile economy.

Saudi Arabia has lashed out at Lebanon, cutting off billions of dollars of aid and telling its citizens to leave the country, after Beirut sided with Iran in the fallout over the execution of a Saudi Shiite cleric, in a diplomatic dispute that threatens Lebanon’s struggling economy.

The tension reflects the worsening Sunni-Shiite conflict in the Middle East, which is driven by regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran, who are fighting proxy wars in Syria, Yemen and, to a lesser extent, in Iraq.

Saudi’s punitive measures against Lebanon began last week after the Lebanese foreign minister, Gibran Bassil, an ally of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, declined to support Saudi resolutions against Iran during two meetings of Arab and Muslim foreign ministers.

The resolution sought to condemn Iran over attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions following Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in early January.

Riyadh announced Friday it was halting $4 billion in aid grants due to what it described as stances taken by Lebanese officials which “were not in harmony with the ties between the two countries.”

This week, Saudi Arabia called on its citizens not to travel to Lebanon for safety reasons and ordered those staying there to leave. Its Gulf allies Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar predictably followed suit, issuing similar warnings. The United Arab Emirates also banned its citizens from traveling to Lebanon and withdrew a number of diplomats from the country.

Lebanon’s political elite is deeply divided between two powerful Saudi and Iran-backed coalitions. The spat has exacerbated divisions among Lebanon’s notoriously fractious politicians, who traded accusations over the billions of dollars lost. Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 and parliament has failed to elect a new head of state because of lack of a quorum.

Concerns have been sparked that further steps could be taken by Saudi Arabia and its neighbors, such as gulf airlines halting flights to Beirut or the eviction of thousands of Lebanese who work in the oil-rich region, a move that would have a devastating effect on Lebanon’s crumbling economy.

There are some half a million Lebanese living in the gulf. They transfer billions of dollars to their home country in remittances, giving a boost to Lebanon’s economy, which has among the highest debt in the world — currently standing at $70 billion or 145 per cent of GDP.

Lebanese economist Louis Hobeika said the eviction of Lebanese migrant workers in the gulf would be the most damaging move Saudi could make. Yet, he suggested that such retaliation would be mutually harmful. “Lebanese hold key positions in companies and it is not very easy to replace him,” he said.

Some analysts say Saudi Arabia is going to deport some foreign workers anyway as projects in the kingdom are cancelled due to falling oil prices.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday before a Cabinet meeting, Economy Minister Alain Hakim urged calm. He said Lebanese should not “panic before any measures by gulf states because such fears harm our economy.”

Central Bank governor Riad Salameh told the daily Al-Akhbar that “markets did not show any fears and were very normal this week.”

Saudi officials say they want Lebanon to “fix the mistakes” but did not say how they can be fixed.

“Mistakes were made in two international arenas,” said Saudi ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Assiri. “What is wanted now is for the side that made the mistake to fix it.”

Some local media reports in Lebanon have argued that the Saudis may be applying pressure to secure the release of a member of the royal family held in Lebanon since October on drug charges.

Other analysts suggest Saudi Arabia may be seeking to compensate for its declining hold over Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia’s influence has been dwindling in Lebanon since early 2011, when pro-Saudi prime minister Saad Hariri was ousted by Hezbollah and its allies. For the past two years, the Saudi-backed March 14 coalition has failed to see one of their leaders elected president.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to back Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, is benefiting from recent victories against Saudi-backed insurgents in Syria.

“The Saudi message is don’t think you can translate victories in Syria and control the system in Lebanon. We have plenty of leverage through our economic muscles,” Kamel said – by Bassem Mroue

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/saudi-piles-pressure-on-lebanon-for-siding-with-iran/2016/02/25/97f525f0-dbf8-11e5-8210-f0bd8de915f6_story.html

25.2.2016 – Ya Libnan (A)

Dozens of Lebanese fired from their jobs in Saudi Arabia, report

[McAfee WebAdvisor warning]

http://yalibnan.com/2016/02/25/dozens-of-lebanese-fired-from-their-jobs-in-saudi-arabia-report/

26.2.2016 – BB (A)

Saudi Arabia: Lebanon Must Stop Hezbollah in Yemen, Syria

Lebanon must take action to stop Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah from exporting its “mercenaries” into Yemen and Syria, reportedly urged a Saudi military spokesman.

The Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon, is currently fighting against U.S. interests alongside Shiite Houthi rebels inYemen and the Bashar al-Assad regime inSyria.

Al Arabiya News Channelreported that Saudi Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Asiri said participation of some Iranian and Hezbollah “mercenaries” who were killed in Yemen violated the United Nations resolution 2216, which ordered an end to violence in the southern Arabian Peninsula country.

Gen. Asiri’s comments came after the internationally recognized Yemeni government said on Wednesday that it hasevidencethat the Iran-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah is backing its opponents, the Houthi rebels.

“The government, which is currently working with the Saudi-led Arab coalition and Popular Resistance units to dislodge Houthi militants from the capital and other areas, said that Hezbollah military trainers planned ‘hostile’ acts implemented by Houthis against Saudi Arabia,” reportedAl Arabiya. – by Edwin Mora

Get the link at:

https://www.facebook.com/yemennewstodayenglish/posts/1104870282998795

Comment by Judith Brown: This CRAZY reporting! Look at the list of dead overseas mercenaries killed in Yemen - from EVERYWHERE but Lebanon. There has been no evidence of this whatsoever - it is just Saudi Arabia, unable to win its war despite using mercenaries and armed forces from all over Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas to attack Yemen by land, sea and air, trying to fund excuses for its failure and trying to distract the world's media from its own foreign fighters.

https://www.facebook.com/yemennewstodayenglish/posts/1104870282998795

My comment from Nov. 2017: The Hezbollah-Yemen connection is still unproved and highly improbable in November 2017, and nevertheless it is claimed again and again by Saudi and allies’ propaganda.

25.2.2016 – Naharnet (A)

Riyadh Seeking Arab Support for Anti-Hizbullah Resolution

Saudi Arabia has launched consultations to hold an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers for the purpose of issuing a decision that condemns Hizbullah, reports said Friday.

According to the reports, Riyadh is seeking to clinch an Arab support for a draft resolution that condemns Hizbullah over its role in Syria and Yemen.

On Wednesday, Qatar and Kuwait joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in issuing travel warnings for Lebanon.

Yemen's embattled government accused Hizbullah on Wednesday of sending fighters to support Iran-backed Huthi rebels controlling parts of the war-ravaged country, including the capital.

The reports also said that several consuls held a meeting in Jeddah this week to discuss the measures that could be taken against Lebanon.

http://m.naharnet.com/stories/en/203142-riyadh-seeking-arab-support-for-anti-hizbullah-resolution

25.2.2016 – Al Arabiya (A)

Film: Fears of sanctions on Lebanon after new video ‘shows Hezbollah in Yemen’

The recordings, which were broadcast yesterday and constituted conclusive evidence on the involvement of Hezbollah in Yemen, raised a wave of widespread controversy and opened the door to questions and concerns that this issue may lead to imposing international sanctions on Lebanon on the basis of its violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2216, on the grounds that Hezbollah is part of the government.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/webtv/reports/2016/02/25/Fears-of-sanctions-on-Lebanon-after-new-video-shows-Hezbollah-in-Yemen-.html

My comment from Nov. 2017: This film hardly yielded any real “proof” of Hezbollah in Yemen.

24.2.2016 – Al Arabiya (A)

Lebanon must act on Hezbollah in Yemen, says Saudi

A Saudi military spokesman urged Lebanon on Wednesday to stop the Shiite Lebanese movement Hezbollah from exporting its “mercenaries” to Yemen and Syria, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri said participation of some Iranian and Hezbollah “mercenaries,” who were killed in Yemen, violated the U.N. resolution 2216, which demanded an end to violence in the southern Arabian Peninsula country.

Asiri made his statements after the internationally recognized Yemeni government on Wednesday said it has evidence that the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah is backing the Houthi militia group.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/02/24/Yemeni-govt-says-have-evidence-Hezbollah-is-involved-in-backing-the-Houthis.html

24.2.2016 – Katholisches Info (** B)

Zündet Saudi-Arabien die Lunte zu einem neuen Nahost-Krieg? Offener Brief eines libanesischen Christen an den saudischen König

Saudi-Arabien rüstet derzeit nicht nur zum Krieg, sondern scheint geradezu erpicht darauf, Feuer an die Lunte zu legen. In den vergangenen Tagen wurden saudische Kampfflugzeuge samt Besatzungen und Bodenpersonal auf den türkischen Luftwaffenstützpunkt Incirlik verlegt. Die Verlegung erfolgte im Rahmen der von den USA geführten Militärkoalition gegen den Islamischen Staat(IS), der neuerdings von westlichen Politikern und Medien lieberDaeshgenannt wird. Die türkisch-saudische Allianz gegen Syrien und den Iran ist als anti-schiitische Allianz der Sunniten zu sehen. Der Libanon verweigert sich jedoch der saudischen Forderung, seiner Militärallianz beizutreten. Ein führender maronitischer Christ verfaßte heute einen offenen Brief an den saudischen König Salman. Ein Brief für den Frieden am Vorabend eines Krieges?

Im Jemen führt Saudi-Arabien bereits Krieg gegen die schiitischen Huthi-Rebellen. Die antischiitische Front weitet sich jedoch aus und droht einen Raum vom Mittelmeer bis zum Persischen Golf, von der türkischen Grenze bis zur pakistanischen und afghanischen Grenze zu erfassen. Durch die demonstrativ gezeigte Bereitschaft, militärisch im eigenen Sinn ordnend in den Nahost-Konflikt einzugreifen, verschleiert Riad, daß es selbst Teil dieses Konflikts ist. Saudi-Arabien fand mit den befreundeten USA zu einer Interessensallianz gegen die in Syrien regierenden Alawiten, aus deren Reihen die Präsidentenfamilie Assad stammt, und die den Schiiten zugerechnet werden. Die Gründe der Anti-Assad-Allianz sind nicht deckungsgleich, doch auf der Grundlage des Mottos „Der Feind meines Feindes ist mein Freund“, wurde man sich einig, einen Aufstand gegen die Regierung Assad vom Zaun zu brechen.

Dazu wurden sunnitische syrische Clans umworben und mit Geld und Waffen versorgt und logistisch unterstützt. Anfangs verlautete Washington, eineFreie Syrische Armeekämpfe gegen den Diktator Assad und für die Demokratie. DieFreie Syrische Armeeentpuppte sich bald in einem wesentlichen Teil als islamistische Milizen wie dieal-Nusra-Brigadeund derIslamische Staat(IS). Das wollen weder Riad noch Washington zugeben. Von derFreien Syrischen Armeeist allerdings kaum mehr die Rede, dafür umso mehr vom Morden der Islamisten, deren Opfer bevorzugt Christen sind. Bis heute ist unklar, welche Regierungen und Institutionen unter der Decke demIslamischen Staatund seinen Ablegern hilfreich zur Hand gehen.

Der Libanon ist der einzige stark christlich geprägte Staat des Nahen Ostens.

Die libanesischen Christen wissen genau, daß es ihren christlichen Glaubensbrüdern in Syrien, mit denen sie vielfach auch verwandtschaftlich verbunden sind, unter dem Alawiten Assad wesentlich besser ergeht als unter einer sunnitischen Herrschaft. Während die schiitische Hisbollah aktiv in Syrien an der Seite Assads kämpft, hegen die libanesischen Christen aus Solidarität mit den syrischen Christen zumindest Sympathien.

Das erklärt zum Teil, warum der Libanon sich nicht an der von Saudi-Arabien mit Zustimmung der USA geschmiedeten antischiitischen Allianz beteiligen will. Hauptgrund dafür ist Selbstschutz vor einem weiteren todbringenden und zerstörerischen Krieg, in den man nicht hineingezogen werden will. Eine Weigerung, die das kleine Land teuer zu stehen kommt. Riad gab in diesen Tagen einen ganzen Strafkatalog gegen den Libanon bekannt. König Salman fordert eine Ende 2013 von seinem Vorgänger König Abdallah gewährte Schenkung von drei Milliarden Dollar zur Aufrüstung der libanesische Armee zurück.

Direkte und massive Auswirkungen hat die dritte Drohung, die nicht offiziell ausgesprochen wurde, aber ausreichend lautstark informell in Umlauf gesetzt wurde: Saudi-Arabien und die anderen Golfemirate könnten die 400.000 in der Golfregion beschäftigten Libanesen ausweisen.

Die „Rache“ des saudischen Königs Salman erfolgt, nachdem der libanesische Außenminister, der maronitische Christ Jebran Bassil von derFreien Patriotischen Bewegung, sich zweimal bei den jüngsten Treffen der arabischen Außenminister weigerte, einer von Saudi-Arabien vorgelegten antiiranischen Resolution zuzustimmen und sich damit in die saudische Allianz einzureihen.

Eine direkte Involvierung des Libanon in einen unkontrollierbaren Nahostkrieg wäre das Ende der letzten noch verbliebenen, nennenswerten und vor allem prägenden christlichen Präsenz im Nahen Osten.

Nicht nur in islamischen Kreisen, auch unter libanesischen Christen wird gerüchteweise die Mutmaßung herumgereicht, Israel käme ein zerstörtes Umland als einer Art gigantischer Glacis nicht ungelegen. Ebensowenig jenen westlichen Kräften, die ungeniert nach einem Krieg ihre Hand auf die Bodenschätze des Nahen Ostens legen könnten. Ein Einschätzung, die die Gesamtstimmung nicht zu heben vermag. Ein führender Christ des Libanon will nicht über solche Hintergründe hinter den Hintergründen spekulieren. Ihm genügen die Fakten, die auf dem Tisch liegen und die seien schwerwiegend genug und veranlaßten ihn zum Handeln.

Der maronitische Christ Fady Noun, stellvertretender Chefredakteur der angesehensten libanesischen TageszeitungL‘Orient-Le Jourschrieb in dieser sich dramatisch zuspitzenden Situation, in der man die Lunte bis Beirut riechen kann, einen offenen Brief an König Salman von Saudi-Arabien. Darin fordert er gegenseitigen Respekt ein und zeigt auf, warum der Libanon nicht Teil einer Allianz werden kann, weil sonst das einzige Modell einer tragfähigen Lösung des Konflikts zerstört würde. Vielmehr hält Noun dem saudischen König den Libanon als Lösungsmodell hin mit der Aufforderung, den Frieden statt den Krieg zu wählen.

http://www.katholisches.info/2016/02/24/zuendet-saudi-arabien-die-lunte-zu-einem-neuen-nahost-krieg-offener-brief-eines-libanesischen-christen-an-den-saudischen-koenig/

25.2.2016 – Al Arabiya (A)

Will Lebanon become a state once again?

Saudi Arabia’s suspension of aid worth $4 billion to Lebanon’s army and Internal Security Forces derives from Riyadh’s declining relationship with the Lebanese state since the hegemony of pro-Iran Hezbollah and its follower, the Free Patriotic Movement led by Michel Aoun. It is not true that Riyadh has had enough of Lebanese media criticism - despite this, Saudi support continued because it was aware that Lebanon is diverse religiously and politically.

However, things took a dangerous turn when the Lebanese state broke with its Arab and Muslim neighbors after its Aounist Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil refused to adopt Arab condemnation of the arson attack against the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad. Gibran justified himself by claiming to protect Lebanese national unity and impartiality.

Lebanese Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi resigned because of “Hezbollah’s influence in government” and its paralyzing of the country’s politics. The people have been prevented from electing a president for 21 months due to Hezbollah, which does not consider the state a priority and is busy waging regional wars.

The party issued a statement in response to the Saudi aid suspension, evading responsibility for the deterioration of Lebanese-Saudi relations and repeating the usual insults toward Riyadh. Hezbollah is managing Lebanon’s foreign affairs through Bassil. For now, Lebanon is not even close to being a state.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/02/25/Will-Lebanon-become-a-state-once-again-.html

25.2.2016 – Daily Star (A)

Saudi ambassador demands faulty parties apologize

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri demanded that sides responsible for the diplomatic rift with his country apologize "in order to rectify ties"

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2016/Feb-25/339157-saudi-ambassador-demands-faulty-parties-apologize.ashx

24.2.2016 – Daily Star – (A)

Lebanon has not done enough to mend ties: Saudi ambassador

Saudi Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri said Wednesday that Lebanon has not done enough to mend its ties with his country, directly blaming Lebanon's foreign minister for Riyadh's decision to halt vital military aid.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2016/Feb-24/338982-salam-hands-saudi-ambassador-letter-to-king-salman.ashx

25.2.2016 – Naharnet (A)

U.S. Diplomat Warns Lebanon Reaching Edge of Abyss

An American diplomat has said that Lebanon's situation is “fragile,” warning it is halfway into reaching the edge of the abyss, As Safir daily reported on Thursday.

According to the newspaper, a Lebanese official quoted the diplomat as saying that the situation in Lebanon is “fragile politically and security wise.”

“We would not be exaggerating if we say that your country is not at the edge of the abyss but it has reached midway into falling in it,” he said.

But the diplomat stressed that Washington will not let go of Lebanon.

“We will not let it fall,” he told the Lebanese official.

The diplomat also warned that the deteriorating security situation could not just “destroy Lebanon but also lead to its disappearance.”

http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/203039-u-s-diplomat-warns-lebanon-reaching-edge-of-abyss

25.2.2016 – Daily Star (A)

Mixed feelings over Saudi-Lebanese split

Politicians expressed mixed feelings over the recent Saudi-Lebanese split, as fears grow over further punitive actions from Gulf countries.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2016/Feb-25/339131-mixed-feelings-over-saudi-lebanese-split.ashx

25.2.2016 – Naharnet (A)

Rifi: Hizbullah Trained Fighters in Bahrain,Yemen and Iraq

Following Yemen’s accusations that Hizbullah is sending fighters to engage in battles along the ranks of the Huthi rebels, former Minister Ashraf Rifi acknowledged the accusations and emphasized that Lebanon must not be used as a platform to launch verbal attacks against brethren countries.

“Hizbullah has trained a lot of fighters in Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq and Syria,” Rifi said in a televised appearance on al-Arabiya TV channel.

“It has engaged in battles against our people in Syria, Iraq and Yemen in addition to its participation in terrorist acts and military operations in some foreign countries,” he stated.

“Lebanon must not be used as a platform to launch attacks at brethren and friendly nations,” concluded the ex-Minister.

For his part, Lebanese Forces official MP Antoine Zahra noted that he was not surprised of Hizbullah’s interventions in crisis-torn countries, he said: “The party is an Iranian tool in the hands of Tehran which moves it according to its own interests whether be that in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait and even in the Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia, if it was able to do so.”

Zahra added: “The major problem lies in the fact that this party considers itself above the law and some parties in the government are not doing what should be done to deter it.”

http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/203042-rifi-hizbullah-trained-fighters-in-bahrain-yemen-and-iraq = http://www.ezspk.co.uk/2016/02/25/rifi-hizbullah-trained-fighters-in-bahrainyemen-and-iraq/

25.2.2016 – Xbox 360 (A)

GCC backs Saudi decision to rethink relations with Lebanon

Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it would stop military aid to arm the Lebanese army which amounted to $3 billion and a further billion dollars that was allocated to military security forces.

At recent meetings of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, Lebanon had failed to condemn “the blatant attacks on the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad, which are contrary to worldwide law and diplomatic norms”, the official added.
“We did not want the matter to reach what contradicts that nature of historic relations between Lebanon and the country of the two shrines (Saudi Arabia)”, read a statement released by Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s office. Another $1 billion in assistance to the Lebanese police force was also axed.
The first shipment of French weapons and military equipment had already been delivered to Lebanon in April past year under the Saudi-funded deal to bolster the Lebanese army’s fight against Islamist militants encroaching from neighboring Syria.

In a statement, Hezbollah said Saudi Arabia took the decision because of economic pressures from the war in Yemen, where it leads an Arab military coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels, and lower oil revenues.

http://xbox360asylum.ca/business/gcc-backs-saudi-decision-to-rethink-relations-with-lebanon/5046

25.2.2016 – Mareeg (A)

Saudi and UAE, Kuwait, Qatar ban citizens from travelling to Lebanon

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon or avoid travelling there.

The Saudi foreign ministry issued a statement calling on “all citizens not to travel to Lebanon, for their safety, and asking citizens residing in Lebanon or visiting not to stay unless extremely necessary”.

The statement, run by the official SPA news agency, urged citizens to contact the Saudi Embassy in Beirut.

Announcing the aid halt on Friday, an official said the kingdom had noticed “hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state”.

The UAE also banned its citizens from travelling to Lebanon and reduced its diplomatic presence in Beirut.

Bahrain also urged citizens against travelling to Lebanon, and called on Bahrainis there already to leave quickly, according to a statement posted to state news.

http://www.mareeg.com/saudi-and-uae-kuwaitqatar-ban-citizens-from-travelling-to-lebanon/

24.2.2015 – Reuters (A)

Qatar and Kuwait join Gulf allies to urge against Lebanon travel

http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKCN0VX28V

25.2.2016 – Jerusalem Post / Turkish Weekly (* A)

Saudis pulling money from Lebanon is a sign the country is lost to Hezbollah

The moves by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies on Tuesday to warn their citizens against traveling to Lebanon and the Saudi decision last week to suspend $3 billion in aid to the Lebanese military is a sign the country has fallen squarely into Iran’s orbit.

Lebanese government sources told the London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat in a report published on Wednesday that “preparations are under way to send a government delegation headed by Prime Minister Tamman Salam to undertake a tour of the Gulf countries to clarify the official Lebanese point of view and try to mend the rift.”
But the bridge may already be too far burned to go back to the status quo ante.

“The overriding message in all of this is, we [the Saudis] are not going to pay for a state that is essentially run by Hezbollah and does what it wants,” Tony Badran, a Lebanon expert and research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Jerusalem Post.
Saudi Arabia, which is in the midst of a regional war with Iran, is not going to stand by even as certain Lebanese state institutions are aiding Hezbollah with its sectarian war in Syria, said Badran.
“Saudi Arabia is drawing a line in the sand in the region-wide conflict with Iran,” he said, adding that this is not like the old Saudi Arabia that would continue to give money even while their interests were not upheld.
The next thing to watch for, says Badran, is whether the Saudis will push for certain political steps from their allies.
One demand would be for the Future Movement to end its ongoing dialogue with Hezbollah, and another could be for the anti-Hezbollah moderate Sunni block led by former prime minister Saad Hariri to leave the government.
There is talk the Saudis are threatening further financial measures that would not only target Hezbollah-linked Shi’ite businessmen in the Gulf but also pro-Hezbollah Lebanese Christians, continued Badran.
“It is unclear if Saudi Arabia will take additional steps, but the message is clear, we are done underwriting a government that is subordinate to Iran and Hezbollah,” he said.
Top Saudi media personality Jamal Khashoggi, head of a news channel owned by a Saudi prince, published an article in January on the Al-Arabiya News website and in the London- based Al-Hayat newspaper that demonstrated the no-nonsense mood.
The article, headlined “You are either with us, or against us,” stated that “there is a major confrontation between sectarian Iran and free peoples.”

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Saudis-pulling-money-from-Lebanon-is-a-sign-the-country-is-lost-to-Hezbollah-446026 = http://www.turkishweekly.net/2016/02/25/news/saudis-pulling-money-from-lebanon-is-a-sign-the-country-is-lost-to-hezbollah/

25.2.2016 – Albawaba (A)

Gulf expulsions threaten Lebanese remittances

Lebanon’s remittances and capital inflow could fall dramatically if some of the oil-rich Gulf states decide to expel a big number of Lebanese expatriates, economists warned Tuesday. “There are around 500,000 Lebanese working in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states and nearly 15 percent of them are Shiites. If these governments opt to expel a large portion of the Shiites then this could affect the inflow of remittances quite considerably,” economist Ghazi Wazni told The Daily Star.

The prospect of mass expulsion of Lebanese working in the Gulf Cooperation Countries heightened in recent days as Saudi Arabia decided to freeze the delivery of nearly $4 billion of grants to Lebanon to protest what it termed as Hezbollah’s intervention in Arab affairs and the failure of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to endorse the Arab League’s final communique on the attack against the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

A few days ago the United Arab Emirates expelled 20 Lebanese families under the pretext of security.

Sources said that most of those who are being targeted belong to the Shiite sect and some Christians who are politically affiliated with MP Michel Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah.

In 2015, remittances from the GCC fell by 27 percent to reach $4.5 billion and if more Lebanese are expelled this year, these remittances would definitely fall below $4 billion.

However, Wazni did not believe that the GCC would expel all the Lebanese because it would be very difficult to find replacements for qualified employees.

Wazni said that in the worst-case scenario, which is not very likely, the Gulf states could expel the 75,000 Shiites expatriates, and if this happens the economic ramifications would be terrible.

He stressed that Saudi Arabia and the GCC states have no interest in destabilizing the situation in Lebanon, especially since most of the economic sectors are very close to the Gulf States.

http://www.albawaba.com:88/business/gulf-expulsions-threaten-lebanese-remittances-809804

25.2.2016 – Now (* A)

Hezbollah’s Achilles heel

The Saudis may have given Michel Aoun an opening

The Saudi decision to cut funding for the Lebanese army and security forces has been puzzling. As the Lebanese have absorbed the shock of this and subsequent Saudi and Gulf measures, they have wondered what it is they’re supposed to do.

Ambiguity can be useful, because it tends to force the target of one’s sanctions to over-interpret what needs to be done to fall back into line. But even there the Saudi move has caused consternation, and the way it has been interpreted by pro-Saudi commentators is that the kingdom wishes to isolate Hezbollah.

But is denying the army weapons the way to do so? How does one explain the fact that the Saudispromisedthe Lebanese army military aid in December 2013, at a moment not strikingly different than today? Hezbollah was deployed in Syria then and security threats in the country were on the rise. The decision was interpreted as, mainly, a reward to France, the intended supplier in the arrangement, because its government had taken a hard line with Iran in negotiations over a nuclear accord.

What has really changed to merit a turnaround? On top of that Lebanon is in a very dangerous place today, on the edge economically. Pushing it over would very likely create a massive humanitarian crisis and great instability, with some 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country. This could precipitate a domestic sectarian conflict with dramatic repercussions. The country might not only attract extremists as has Syria, but could turn into the source of a new migration crisis affecting Europe.

That’s the nightmare scenario at least, and theindicationsare that both the United Nations and some European states are warning the Saudis against pushing Lebanon too far. It appears, at least for now, that this is not Riyadh’s intention. The kingdom realizes that there is considerable opposition to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that, for example, expelling Lebanese workers from the Gulf states would simply undermine its own Lebanese sympathizers while opening a golden door to Iran.

For a better sense of what the Saudis want, the French-language L’Orient-Le Jourthis weekspoketo Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist with very close ties to the regime. “Saudi Arabia is not withdrawing from Lebanon,” he told the newspaper. “Saudi Arabia had agreed with the countries of the region, notably Iran, to freeze the situation in Lebanon in order to spare it the repercussions of the situation in Syria. That equation is now being challenged, since Saudi Arabia has become the only guarantor of the stability of a country that has become a base of support for Iran’s policies, implemented by Hezbollah.”

Khashoggi went on to say, “The key message, it seems to me, is that Saudi Arabia must not be taken for granted.”

While it’s true that Hezbollah has had free rein in Lebanon in recent years--prolonging the presidential vacuum and acting with impunity on many fronts—it’s unclear how the party’s adversaries can respond to an armed organization that never hesitates to resort to violence. The Saudis do not desire a Sunni-Shiite civil war in Lebanon, that much appears to be evident.

This means they prefer a political initiative, one that involves putting Hezbollah into the corner. What we can expect in the coming period is a harder line by March 14, which will make the country even more dysfunctional than it already is. The objective is to make all Hezbollah moves more costly and difficult.

https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentaryanalysis/566658-hezbollahs-achilles-heel

26.2.2016 – Times of Israel (A)

Lebanon’s PM issues ultimatum over Hezbollah

Tammam Salam warns Shiite group must fix hostile relationship with Saudi Arabia or he will quit, Lebanese officials say

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam has reportedly warned that he will resign if the powerful Hezbollah terror group does not move to repair its troubled ties with Saudi Arabia.

According to Israel’s media Walla outlet, senior officials in Lebanon told the local Elnashra website that Salam intends to make good on his ultimatum as soon as possible.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/lebanons-pm-issues-ultimatum-over-hezbollah/

27.2.2016 – Press TV Iran (A)

Lebanon will not become Saudi emirate: Hezbollah

Hezbollah has warned Saudi Arabia that Lebanon is not to fall under Riyadh’s tutelage, despite the kingdom’s piling pressure on Lebanese officials to apologize for their stances.

“Lebanon will not be a Saudi emirate or a non-Saudi emirate,” Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem said on Friday.

“No one should think we would reject the creation of a Saudi emirate, but accept another,” he said.

Qassem said, “What happened in the last week warrants an apology by Saudi Arabia to the Lebanese people because it hurt the Lebanese people... Saudi Arabia is the one that attacked us, we did not attack it.”

He said Riyadh had been waiting long before for a chance to attack Lebanon in one way or another and was now seizing on the opportunity.

“In reality, this was an opportunity. They wanted to attack Lebanon and Hezbollah, and everything this country and its people have achieved so far,” Qassem said.

Several Lebanese ministers have likewise dismissed an apology, while Prime Minister Tammam Salam has called on the country to unite in the face of Saudi pressures.

“We committed no wrong for which to apologize,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mohammad Fneish said during a Thursday cabinet meeting.

Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan also said, “I don’t understand this great equation: we either apologize or we must bear a collective punishment.”

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/02/27/452564/Lebanon-Saudi-Arabia-Hezbollah

26.2.2016 – Al Monitor (* B)

Why did Riyadh cancel $4 billion in aid to Lebanon?

It was only a matter of time before the latent tensions brewing between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon boiled over, given the current rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran and the rising influence of the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon.

But it seems Saudi Arabia is truly acting in an erratic manner that, instead of bringing Lebanon back into its sphere of influence, is likely going to create more of a rift in an already-strained relationship.

Given the range of Saudi commercial, political and media networks managed by the Lebanese, both countries will be affected by this drastic Saudi decision, although the Saudis are convinced only Lebanon will feel the pressure. Lebanon has always been important for Saudi Arabia despite the former’s small size and lack of resources.

The assassination of Lebanese-Saudi Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 and the subsequent weak premiership of his son Saad reflected a serious drawback to Saudi influence in Lebanon. Lebanon had already been sliding slowly but steadily into the camp of Saudi Arabia’s arch enemies, namely Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The final straw came during the 34-day Israeli-Lebanese war in 2006 that resulted in several hundred deaths and the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure. While Hezbollah, the Lebanese government and the majority of Arabs from Morocco to Iraq considered this war an onslaught on all of Lebanon, the Saudi regime saw it through the prism of sectarianism and tense relations with Iran. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah emerged as an Arab leader at the time, making the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques nervous in Riyadh. Nasrallah maintained this glorified position until his latest intervention in Syria in support of Assad, which resulted in many Arabs rethinking their early enthusiasm for the “Hero of Resistance,” as he came to be known.

The Saudis blamed Hezbollah for provoking Israel after the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers that preceded the war. Saudi religious scholars issued opinions outlawing charitable donations to the Lebanese Shiite, who came under heavy bombardment in southern Lebanon and the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh. Saudis who denounced a sectarian interpretation of the war at the time, such as intellectual Muhammad al-Ahmari, came under Salafi Wahhabi attack, labeled as misguided individuals who had fallen under the spell and charisma of Nasrallah.

While in 2006 there were still reasonable nonsectarian voices in Saudi Arabia, today the platform is open for intolerant opinions when it comes to Lebanese relations.

The worsening tensions are not only a geopolitical time bomb waiting to explode in new locations — in addition to hot spots in Syria, Iraq and Yemen — but they also threaten cohesion between and within Arab states. Lebanon is the last casualty of this ongoing tension. The cost is high for a small country like Lebanon, which depends heavily on expatriate remittances from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

Under the new leadership of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia seems to have abandoned diplomacy in favor of a hawkish approach to relations with historical Arab allies like Lebanon.

Perhaps the prince can learn lessons from simply looking at how superpowers are often compelled to use diplomacy instead of punitive force. Managing and containing difficult political crises may be more conducive to re-winning old friends than simply using aid as pressure to force other countries to succumb to the Saudi agenda.

A regional power like Saudi Arabia whose sectarian policies are so divisive can benefit from abandoning its “discipline and punish” approach in dealing with Lebanon. Let us hope the Saudi leadership will realize before it is too late that might may not always be right – by Madawi Al-Rasheed

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/02/saudi-arabia-lebanon-withdraw-aid-military-iran.html

25.2.2016 – Aljazeera (* B)

What's to become of Lebanon?

Since its 14-year civil war ended with a peace accord signed in Saudi Arabia in November 1989, Lebanon has tried hard to maintain its plurality while at the same time "managing" its sectarian divisions.

But many Lebanese insist that they could only do so much against the regional odds; that their nation is a victim of conflicts instigated or manufactured by foreign powers that projected their differences on to this open and all-too-fragile nation.

They grumble about foreigners waging proxy wars on Lebanese soil.

At times it's not clear whether foreign powers exploited the Lebanese to advance their regional interests, or whether the Lebanese factions used foreign assistance to fight each other and expand their own narrow interests.

Over the past decade, most of the regional tensions projected in or on Lebanon were between the allies of Syria and Iran, and those allied with Gulf and other Arab states.

Lebanese tensions peaked after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in February 2005, leading to the Cedar Revolution - a series of mass demonstrations demanding the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon and the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate Hariri's assassination, which they blamed on Syria and Hezbollah.

Lebanon is a diverse and industrious nation and that's a cause for celebration. But the Lebanese are a divided people, and that is a major cause for trepidation.

Since its 14-year civil war ended with a peace accord signed in Saudi Arabia in November 1989, Lebanon has tried hard to maintain its plurality while at the same time "managing" its sectarian divisions.

But many Lebanese insist that they could only do so much against the regional odds; that their nation is a victim of conflicts instigated or manufactured by foreign powers that projected their differences on to this open and all-too-fragile nation.

They grumble about foreigners waging proxy wars on Lebanese soil. And there is some truth to that. Just as much truth as in the fact that they have been the local foot soldiers abetting, enacting and executing these wars and conflicts.

So much so that at times it's not clear whether foreign powers exploited the Lebanese to advance their regional interests, or whether the Lebanese factions used foreign assistance to fight each other and expand their own narrow interests.

Over the past decade, most of the regional tensions projected in or on Lebanon were between the allies of Syria and Iran, and those allied with Gulf and other Arab states.

Lebanese tensions peaked after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in February 2005, leading to the Cedar Revolution - a series of mass demonstrations demanding the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon and the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate Hariri's assassination, which they blamed on Syria and Hezbollah.

Syrian forces withdrew soon after in April and the United Nations established the tribunal. But Lebanon continued to simmer, leading to a series of assassinations and sporadic violence in addition to two wars against Israel.

During the initial turbulent period, the Lebanese political factions consolidated into two opposing blocs: the March 8 coalition of pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian groups, and the March 14 coalition that leaned closer to Gulf and Arab positions.

The following decade had its ups and downs with the two blocs competing and conflicting, and at times reconciling in coalition governments. But this was a decade of more downs than ups.

A case in point has been the regional crisis over Syria that has polarised the Lebanese.

Riyadh and its Gulf allies have grown exasperated with Hezbollah's growing influence over the Lebanese state. They accuse it of causing the country's political paralysis and its presidential crisis. Lebanon hasn't had a president for two years.

They are also angered by Hezbollah's anti-Saudi activities in Syria, Yemen and other Arab countries – by Marwan Bishara

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/02/lebanon-syria-isis-160225101743385.html

25.2.2017 – Washington Institute (* B)

Saudi Arabia Rethinks Its Commitments to Lebanon

Riyadh's latest financial and diplomatic measures may just be a shot across Beirut's bow, but several signs point to a potentially wider Gulf withdrawal that could leave Lebanon even more at Iran and Hezbollah's mercy.

Riyadh's moves also coincided with the passage of the "Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015," a new U.S. law that many in Lebanon are concerned will undermine the state's robust financial services industry. Taken together, the Saudi and U.S. measures threaten a perfect storm that could shake the foundations of Lebanon's already tenuous economy.

Perhaps the most important factor in the whole affair is the potentially significant impact that Gulf retrenchment could have on Lebanon's general economic mood. Even before these developments, investing in Lebanon -- a state with public debt of $69 billion, or 132 percent of GDP, not to mention boiling sectarian tensions, sporadic violence, a history of civil war, and a shared border with Syria -- required a strong stomach. The Saudi pullout makes matters worse. Tourism, real estate, and construction are key drivers of the Lebanese economy, and the flight of Gulf capital will stress these sectors. It could also spook other would-be investors, harming the lively financial sector.

The Saudi shift could have major political implications as well. For decades, Riyadh has been an important player in Lebanese politics, mainly as a counterweight to Iran and Hezbollah. Although it has reduced its support for local Sunni allies in recent years, particularly Saad Hariri of the so-called March 14 coalition, it still maintains seemingly excellent ties with other politicians, notably Hariri's Christian coalition partner Samir Geagea of the Lebanese Forces party.

It is too early to judge what these economic and political measures represent: a Saudi warning that Beirut needs do better at walking the tightrope between Tehran and Riyadh, or the initial phase of a full-on Gulf redeployment away from the Lebanese project. Yet the current trajectory seems to be toward a downsized Saudi role in Lebanon, which would leave the state more than ever at the mercy of Iran and Hezbollah – by David Schenker

https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/saudi-arabia-rethinks-its-commitments-to-lebanon

27.2.2016 – La Kabylie (A)

"Saudi Arabia is concerned that its project in Syria, in which it invested so much political capital, is in danger of collapsing", said Andrew Hammond, an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

He noted specifically Lebanon's refusal to join the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in condemning attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran last month. They transfer billions of dollars to their home country in remittances, giving a boost to Lebanon's economy, which has among the highest debt in the world - now standing at $70 billion or 145 per cent of GDP.

"What happened in thelast weekfrom Saudi requires Saudi to apologize to Lebanon, because it insulted Lebanese", Sheikh Naim Qassem, the Hezbollah deputy leader, said in a speech during a religious occasion in Beirut.

http://la-kabylie.com/2016/02/27/yemen-accuses-hezbollah-of-helping-houthis-in-saudi-border/

27.2.2016 – Investment Underground (A)

But there is no Arab consensus on any major issue these days, which is why Lebanon did not support Saudi resolutions against Iran in two recent gatherings of Arab and Muslim foreign ministers.

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh and Lebanese bankers dismissed claims that Gulf nationals are withdrawing their deposits from Lebanon in a sign of solidarity with Saudi Arabia.

This meant that Riyadh had withdrawn support for a government that had no president, due to the inability of Lebanon's feuding politicians to agree on one, and instead was supporting a president in Sudan who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

http://investmentunderground.com/2016/02/eu-lawmakers-call-for-saudi-arms-embargo-despite-lobbying/

27.2.2016 – Asharq Al-Awsat (B)

Hezbollah’s Enmity against Saudi Arabia

Evidence and proof; deliberately presented to the public showing Hezbollah’s execution of terrorist operations on Saudi borders and those that breach Riyadh as well. Hezbollah’s exercised-targeting is not recent to those who actually have been in keep with its regional activity; the organization has had spread cells that prove its line of work in each of Bahrain, Kuwait, and Yemen. The only difference today is that Hezbollah’s going after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an enemy is documented on both record and taping.

Hezbollah is not different from al-Qaeda or ISIS. To be frank, Hezbollah surpasses the other two by enjoying the merit of possessing diplomatic tools, a government that accredits its works, and a foreign minister whose policy has its guidelines put into effect. Personally, I believe it’s about time things are called out for what they really are, diplomacy has rendered incapacitated. Hezbollah is an arch enemy to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, it is an enemy which relishes with freedom of work, and has struck an official inter-governmental deal with an administration which claims to be a friend to the Kingdom. Although the government claims to follow a self-seclusion approach, the truth is all it does is isolate itself from Hezbollah’s party crimes and terrorism, which are covered-up by the whole of the Lebanese administration.

Those who believe that Riyadh had decided on the bilateral relationship revision with Lebanon, for the mere reasons of Lebanese media clamping down on Saudi Arabia are deeply mistaken. The Kingdom’s policy is broader and better built than to make a decision based on this type of attack; regardless how low it stoops. The true case here lies in the fact that the Lebanese government has provided Hezbollah’s terrorism against the Kingdom with authorized armament, that is all there is to it in short. There isn’t a single country in this world which accepts to deal with a government that sweet-talks it publicly, only to harbor a main subject who plans and conspires against its security and stability. Added to that is Hezbollah’s hostile contribution to the Arab-nations best interest and the carrying-out of the Iranian agenda in each of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Thus, Lebanese forces must choose either to have their country under Hezbollah’s flagship, or for Hezbollah to return beneath national jurisdiction. As for when a country is formed by a terrorist party, then countries will not accept dealing with such governance. Last but not least, it is unsuited for a country in Lebanon’s value to reach at such an ending – by Salman Aldosary

http://english.aawsat.com/2016/02/article55347942/hezbollahs-enmity-against-saudi-arabia

29.2.2016 – NYSE Post (A)

UAE backs Saudi decision to halt military aid to Lebanon

The Ministry issued a statement on Friday expressing solidarity with the Saudi initiative based on the "hijacking" of Lebanon's foreign policy by the Iran-allied Lebanese militant group Hezbullah, according to a report by national news agencyWAM.

"We did not want the matter to reach what contradicts that nature of historic relations between Lebanon and the country of the two shrines (Saudi Arabia)", read a statement released by Prime Minister Tammam Salam's office. Another $1 billion in assistance to the Lebanese police force was also axed.

TheSPAstatement said Lebanon, at recent meetings of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, had failed to condemn "the blatant aggression on the kingdom's embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad", last month.

"Saudi Arabia is suffering a severe financial crisis" which Hezbollah said was linked to "the huge cost of its sinful aggression on brotherly Yemen" and the collapse in global oil prices.

http://nysepost.com/uae-backs-saudi-decision-to-halt-military-aid-to-lebanon-138594 (Link working no more)

26.2.2016 – Al Monitor (** B)

Saudis increasingly frustrated with Lebanon

Saudi Arabia is not happy with Lebanon or its failure to control the Islamist militant group Hezbollah, and it's making its displeasure clear. What’s not known is what it will take to appease Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia's actions come against a Lebanese government that has been politically hijacked by Hezbollah, according to Hezbollah’s opponents in Lebanon and abroad. Also, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has been escalating his media attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Adding to the hostility, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi declared Feb. 16 that Hezbollah members have been directly implicated in supporting Houthis in their war against the Saudi-backed legitimate Yemeni government.

“Hezbollah is a threat to all Arab states, especially the Gulf,” a source from the Gulf Cooperation Council told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

“We have all suffered from Hezbollah’s terrorism and Iran’s use of it,” he continued. “The security services have succeeded in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE [United Arab Emirates] in controlling several security and financial operations of Hezbollah during the past three years, and we are in solidarity with Saudi Arabia.

“There must be a radical change in the balance of power in Lebanon, either through the emergence of a party with equal strength to Hezbollah or through weakening Hezbollah to become equal to other Lebanese parties.”

The Saudi retaliation against Lebanon surprised many observers there and abroad. It is part of a series of security measures that Riyadh has taken against figures or parties operating directly or indirectly in Saudi Arabia in favor of Iran or Hezbollah. These measures include Saudi trials in May that restricted bank accounts, investments and real estate assets of 44 Lebanese people affiliated with Hezbollah in Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom’s ruling parties are convinced Hezbollah is working with Iran to penetrate the Gulf and foil or paralyze Saudi Arabia’s plans to lead the region on both military and security levels.

Saudi Ambassador to Beirut Awad Assiri launched an open-arms policy in April 2013, but Riyadh has failed to contain Hezbollah behind diplomatic doors. Now it seems Riyadh will not stop at diplomatic and economic displays of anger. It’s not looking for a middle ground with the Lebanese government, which is unable to control Hezbollah locally and abroad – by Ibrahim al-Hatlani, a Saudi writer based in Jeddah

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/02/saudi-arabia-lebanon-frustration-aid-cut-riyadh.html

My comment (Nov. 2017): This mainly is a Saudi propaganda article taking for granted all Saudi propaganda claims. The most absurd of them: The alleged Hisbollah support for Yemeni Houthis, still a perennial issue. Mere propaganda also the assertions against the Shiite opposition in Eastern Saudi Arabia. The Saudis had reacted with executions and destructing the town of Awamiya.

29.2.2016 – Al Monitor (* B)

What is Riyadh's endgame in Lebanon?

Saudi Arabia is playing a high-stakes game in Lebanon, seeking to punish and weaken Hezbollah and Iran. It's not clear if the Saudis have an achievable end goal in mind.

Lebanon did not join an Arab League consensus in condemning Iran for the attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran in early January. In response, Riyadh suspended indefinitely a $3 billion program to purchase French weapons for the Lebanese military and canceled a $1 billion project to assist the Lebanese internal security service. Then it announced a travel warning discouraging tourists and others from visiting Lebanon. Several Hezbollah-connected companies have been blacklisted by Riyadh.

The Saudi-Iranian rivalry in Lebanon is decades old. This current round got started last summer when Saudi spies captured Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mughassil at the Beirut airport, arriving from Tehran.

The Russian and Iranian intervention in Syria this past fall also increased Saudi anger at Hezbollah, which provides many of the boots on the ground to attack the Sunni opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Riyadh's goal in Syria is to get rid of the Iranian hand there, and Hezbollah is the center of the Iranian hand. So frustration with Beirut grew steadily in the kingdom this fall as a consequence of frustration with events in Syria.

Some of the Saudi moves are more symbolic than damaging.

Even the Saudi's friends caution that Hezbollah is too powerful in Lebanon to be challenged directly.

Since the accession of King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud last year, Saudi national security policy has become much more aggressive and risk-prone than it was under his predecessor, King Abdullah.

Evicting Iran from Lebanon is a bridge too far for Saudi diplomacy. So is defeating Hezbollah, as Israel has proven more than once. Lebanon is a fragile political entity. Its civil war in the 1980s was the role model for Syria today: Extreme sectarian violence begat foreign intervention on a massive scale. A quarter million Lebanese died between 1976 and 1990.

Saudi Arabia is right to make Iran and its proxy pay for their acts of terrorism and for failing to protect embassies and diplomats. Iran has yet to demonstrate it respects diplomatic immunity, a cornerstone of global order. But Riyadh needs to have a realistic goal in mind. The Middle East does not need yet another broken state – by Bruce Riedel

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/02/saudi-arabia-lebanon-hezbollah-iran-aid-withdrawal-military.html

Date ? (* A)

Hezbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrullah

A COLONIALIST DISEASE CALLED SAUDI ARABIA

Sayyed said everything yesterday regarding Saudi Arabia. There are things that cannot be hidden anymore. Extremely controversial is the Saudi role, not only regarding Lebanon but more so regarding Yemen and Iraq and Syria. But Lebanon has gotten its share. The country is almost taken as a hostage and nothing can be done. The water is polluted and in some areas sewage water is used to water the plants. The garbage is filling the streets. People are left to cater to their own needs. The economy is suffering and the trade is no more like before. The Lebanese can [no; added, must have got lost] more export their food products because of the Syrian situation and the closing of roads and the local markets are drowning from the excess of food products. Lebanon has become a lawless country almost on the verge of collapsing. There are more than one and a half million refugees in a country of 4.5 millions. A country that lacks the essentials and that has to host this number of Syrian refugees and many of them are part of the opposition and they plot against both Lebanon and Syria.

The thugs of ISIS and al Nusrat have taken the town of 'Irsal in the far north and its vicinity, and they threaten the whole valley of the Bekaa. There are thousands of them in the Barren hills of 'Irsal, and their families live in the neighboring camps that host almost 90 thousand refugees. It is the Saudi policy that brought this plight on Lebanon through the government that was totally affiliated to KSA and who under the policy of self distancing, introduced thousands of armed thugs that crossed back and forth to and from Syria exposing both Syria and Lebanon to great dangers. Tons of weapons were also smuggled across borders to destroy both Syria and Lebanon.

The country is barely surviving in the middle of all this, and has not been able to organize parliamentary elections that are overdue, and the presidency has been vacant for two years now and, weren't it for the Resistance, we would have been driven out of our houses by ISIS, and half of Lebanon would have been taken if not all. Sectarianism is master of the field and ISIS should be accommodated according to the pro Saudi group because of sectarian reasons. A thug that belongs to a sect should be accepted and integrated as if the sect had no one to represent it but armed terrorist thugs. This is the logic that has been ruling Lebanon that is a Saudi logic above all. This is the situation, not to speak of the Israeli war on Lebanon that the Saudis funded, and the constant interference, and the promises that never materialized, and the blackmail to expel all Lebanese from the Gulf, in addition to vetoing any help Lebanon can get from Iran that Lebanon needs and blocking all possibilities and opportunities and leaving the army weaponless in front of armed thugs, and using Lebanon to smuggle drugs and host suicidals from all countries.

This, not to speak of bribing politicians and bribing the media in order to instigate fitna, and exposing Lebanon's security to great dangers the least of them is civil war. This is what Saudi Arabia is doing to Lebanon, and we have not said everything, and one can understand better now why Sayyed Hassan Nasrullah spoke thus yesterday!

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=978877738831923&id=961126490607048 (Link working no more]

My comment: This, already by language, clearly can be classified as a Hezbollah propaganda text. Of course, it is strictly anti-Saudi. What is interesting, Nasrallah stresses the negative effects of the Syrian war: The economy suffers; a lot of refugees came to Lebanon; ISIS and al-Nusrah threaten Lebanon by bringing armed fighters into the country, hidden among the refugees, and furthermore, Nasrallah emphasizes the danger ISIS would bring to the country. And he blames the Saudis and their Lebanese allies for that. He also laments Saudi interference in Lebanon, in order to spread sectarianism.

2.3.2016 – Deutsche Wirtschafts-Nachrichten (* A)

Eskalation: Saudi-Arabien will Krieg auf Libanon ausweiten

Saudi-Arabien will den Krieg im Nahen Osten auf den Libanon ausweiten. Die von den USA und Deutschland unterstützte, islamistische Monarchie hat die Hisbollah zur Terror-Organisation erklärt. Alle saudischen Staatsbürger wurden zum Verlassen des Landes aufgefordert

Im Machtkampf der Regionalmächte Saudi-Arabien und Iran hat die Regierung in Riad einen diplomatischen Erfolg erzielt. Der Golfkooperationsrat, ein Zusammenschluss der Golf-Monarchien um Saudi-Arabien, erklärte am Mittwoch die libanesische Hisbollah zu einer „Terrororganisation“.

DieGolf-Monarchien stellten sich damit zum ersten Mal kollektiv gegen die Hisbollah, die vom sunnitischen Saudi-Arabien als ein verlängerter Arm der schiitischen Führung im Iran angesehen wird.

„Die Staaten des Golfkooperationsrates haben beschlossen, die Hisbollah-Miliz sowie alle ihre Anführer, Untergruppen und Vereinigungen als Terrororganisation einzustufen“, erklärte der Generalsekretär des Golfkooperationsrates, Abdellatif al Sajani. Am Vortag hatte Hisbollah-Chef Hassan Nasrallah Saudi-Arabien vorgeworfen, gewalttätige Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Sunniten und Schiiten zu schüren.

Saudi-Arabien traf in den vergangenen Wochen eine Serie von Entscheidungen, die für den Libanon schmerzhafte Konsequenzen haben könnten. Soforderte die Regierung in Riad saudiarabische Staatsbürger auf, den Libanon zu verlassen. Außerdem stoppte Saudi-Arabien die Finanzierung von Rüstungsprojekten im Libanon im Umfang von mehreren Milliarden Euro. Zum Golf-Kooperationsrat gehören außer Saudi-Arabien Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Katar und die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate.

Dem seit Jahrzehnten leidgeplagten Libanon droht damit eine gewaltige Katastrophe: Das Land hat in den vergangenen Jahren Millionen Flüchtlinge aufgenommen, obwohl es durch die vom Westen mitverursachten Hegemonialkriege schwer geschädigt wurde.

Die Wiederaufbau-Bemühungen stocken auch deshalb, weil der Westen keine Hilfe leistet. Stattdessen versuchen die internationalen Banken aktuell, den Libanesen Immobilienkredite anzudrehen – die diese wegen der hohen Arbeitslosigkeit und dem Lohndumping, zu dem die Flüchtlinge instrumentalisiert werden, niemals ordnungsgemäß werden bedienen können.

https://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2016/03/02/eskalation-saudi-arabien-will-krieg-auf-libanon-ausweiten/

1.3.2016 – Critical Threats (*A)

2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Report: March 1

Saudi Arabia is leveraging Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government to advance Saudi regional objectives to limit Iran’s influence. The issue of Hezbollah support for the al Houthis is now a talking point for Saudi and Yemeni officials, likely in reaction to events outside of Yemen.

Recent Yemeni and Saudi allegations of Lebanese Hezbollah’s involvement in Yemen probably are driven by Saudi Arabia’s interests with regard to Iran and the Syria peace talks.Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government’s messaging most likely reflects the Saudi position because the Hadi government relies on the Saudi-led coalition for support against the al Houthis. The Saudi-Iranian conflict has been escalating, and Saudi Arabia continues to take retributive actions for the January 2016 attack on its Tehran embassy and to contest Iran’s strength in Syria. Hadi government officialsaccusedthe Lebanese Hezbollah on February 24 of providing logistical and physical aid to al Houthi militants and noted Yemen would submit a formal complaint to the UN Security Council.

http://www.criticalthreats.org/yemen/yemen-crisis-situation-reports-march-1-2016

2.3.2016 – National News Agency of Lebanon (A)

Hariri: Hezbollah's practices in Yemen led to GCC decision

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that what drove the Gulf Cooperation Council to consider "Hezbollah" a terrorist organization are its practices in Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the world. He said: "Rather than being with the Arab consensus, the party is seeking to breach this consensus against the interest of Lebanon, and then we hear the high pitched speeches that justify these practices".
Hariri asked why do some young Lebanese interfere in these countries? We are against the interventions of Hezbollah in any state, because it is not greater than its country. These questions require a clear answer from "Hezbollah".
Premier Hariri was speaking during a meeting this evening at the "Center House" with a delegation from the Beirut coordinators of the "Future Movement", in the presence of Beirut MPs.

http://nna-leb.gov.lb/en/show-news/57832/Hariri-Hezbollah-39-practices-in-Yemen-led-to-GCC-decision

Explanation: Saad Hariri’s first term as prime minister lasted from Nov. 2009 to June 2011.

2.3.2016 – Telepolis (* A)

Strategischer Schritt: Golfrat setzt Hisbollah auf die Terrorliste

In dem Kontext [Ereignisse in Syrien, saudische Interessen in Syrien] ist der Entschluss des Golf-Kooperationsrats (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Katar, Saudi-Arabia und Vereinigte Arabische Emirate) zu verstehen, die Hisbollah als Terrororganisation einzustufen. Die Vereinten Nationen listen die Hisbollah nicht als Terrororganisation, die EU hat den militärischen Arm auf die Terrorliste gesetzt, da man sie für den Anschlag auf Israelis in Bulgarien verantwortlich machte. In den USA wurde die Hisbollah 1997 auf die Terrorliste gesetzt, allerdings ist sie zusammen mit dem Iran imWorldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities aus dem Jahr 2015 erstmalsnicht mehr aufgeführt.

Der GCCbegründetdie Entscheidung mit "feindlichen Akten, die von Elementen dieser Milizen begangen wurden, um junge Menschen aus den GCC-Mitgliedsstaaten anzuwerben, um Terrorakte zu begehen, Waffen und Sprengstoff zu schmuggeln und zu Aufruhr, Unordnung und Gewalt aufzurufen". Daneben werden aber auch die "terroristischen und subversiven Taten" benannt, die in Syrien, im Jemen und im Irak begangen werden. Diese würden "den moralischen und humanitären Werten und Prinzipien und dem internationalen Recht widersprechen und für die arabische nationale Sicherheit eine Bedrohung darstellen". Wie sehr das Rechtsystem der Golfstaaten moralischen und humanitären Prinzipien und den Menschenrechten gehorcht, sei dahingestellt. Dass die Hisbollah im Jemen tätig sein soll, ist erst einmal eine Behauptung – von Florian Rötzer

http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/47/47577/1.html

2.3.2017– The Independent (** B)

Saudi Arabia turns on Lebanon for its unfaithfulness and lack of gratitude after decades of largesse

After pouring billions into rebuilding the country following successive Israeli invasions and air raids, the Saudis find that they cannot prevent the Shia from expressing their fury at Riyadh.

But now Saudi Arabia, blundering into the civil war in Yemen and threatening to send its overpaid but poorly trained soldiers into Syria, has turned with a vengeance on Lebanon for its unfaithfulness and lack of gratitude after decades of Saudi largesse.

(What kinds of largess, again? The people never got a dime, if any money were lavished)

After repeatedly promising to spend £3.2bn on new French weapons for the well-trained but hopelessly under-armed Lebanese army, Saudi Arabia has suddenly declined to fund the project – which was eagerly supported by the US and, for greedier reasons, by Paris.

Along with other Gulf states, Riyadh has told its citizens not to visit Lebanon or – if they are already there – to leave. Saudi Airlines is supposedly going to halt all flights to Beirut. Lebanon, according to the Saudis, is a centre of “terror”.

What prompted all this spite was a ferocious attack on the House of Saud by Hezbollah’s chairman, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose battalions are fighting and dying alongside the regular Syrian army in Syria and killing the Islamist Al Qaeda rebels and those of ISIS who share a Sunni Wahabi salafist faith with the Saudis.

After pouring billions into Lebanon for decades – rebuilding the country after successive Israeli invasions and air raids – the Saudis find that they cannot prevent the Shia, whose government representatives include Hezbollah party members (just 2 ), from expressing their fury at Riyadh, especially after the Kingdom chopped the head off the popular and learned Saudi Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.

(Not accurate: Nasr Allah lambasted the Saudi Kingdom 2 days after the launching of pre-emptive war in Yemen. And never desisted and promised to keep challenging the wrongdoing and brutalities of the Saudi Kingdom))

Why, the Saudis say, did Lebanon not even join in the chorus of condemnation against Iran when Saudi diplomats were assaulted in Tehran? (Lebanon condemned the burning of the Saudi embassy in Tehran in many occasions)

The Saudis will probably regret this assault.

Pulling Lebanon’s financial magic carpet away opens the country up to other “friends”, not least Iran which, according to the latest Beirut reports, would be happy to fund the Lebanese army to the tune of £7bn – providing, of course, the newly purchased weapons come from Tehran, and not from Paris.

But this latest crisis since the last greatest crisis in the drama of Lebanon – which currently has no president and no proper functioning parliament and not even a rubbish collection – is not without its own unique comedy.

The nightclubs and high-class sex workers of Lebanon will not fall victim to the aggressive politics of the Kingdom’s young and newly powerful princes.

The Sunni Lebanese Future Movement’s leader and former Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, is a Saudi citizen – as was his assassinated ex-prime minister father Rafiq – and is now quite taken aback by the wilful actions of a nation to which he has always given as much allegiance as he has to Lebanon.

The Future Movement, it seems, did not try hard enough to ameliorate Lebanon’s official criticism of Saudi Arabia in the Arab League and should have prevented Hezbollah from destabilising Yemen and Bahrain – even though there is no physical proof that either Hezbollah or Iran have actually been involved in the Yemeni war or the Shia revolt against the Bahraini autarchy, where a Sunni king rules over a Shia majority.

Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek, the head of Hezbollah’s Shariah Council, insisted that it was the Saudis who should apologise to Lebanon which “has always been on the side of the Arab nation”.

The truth is that the Saudis are publicly praised and secretly reviled across the Muslim Middle East because they are very rich and most of their fellow Arabs, comparatively, are very poor. (Not accurate: it is Not the money, but the way the Saudi Kingdom consider all others as slaves to their orders and policies)

No wonder some in Beirut are asking whether, crushed by the collapse of oil prices, the cost of its Yemeni adventure and facing a lake of poverty among its own people, (even before the collapse of oil prices), Saudi Arabia isn’t simply running out of money.

In which case, a newly desanctioned Iran would be happy to take the monarchy’s place as the financial saviour of Lebanon – as well as play the new policeman of the Middle East, courtesy of the US.

Strange, isn’t it, that the name “Israel” hasn’t once popped up in this saga? – by Robert Fisk, wirh remarks in brackets by “adonis49” at the adonis49 site

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-turns-on-lebanon-for-its-unfaithfulness-and-lack-of-gratitude-after-decades-of-largesse-a6907961.html = https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/has-the-saudi-kingdom-lost-it-turning-against-lebanon-after-losing-yemen-iraq-and-syria/

3.3.2017 – Vanessa Beeley (* B)

United Nations - Lebanon violated UN Security Council Resolution 1701, 2,374 times in 2015, according to a report the Israeli Mission released to the UN on Sunday.
Resolution 1701 was passed in 2006 and was intended to resolve that summer’s war between Israel and Lebanon.

It called for a disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, including Hezbollah. It also stated that no armed forces other than the UN Interim Force in Lebanon and the Lebanese army would be posted south of the Litani River.
According to the report, 2015 saw 1,079 incidents in which armed individuals were cited freely roaming in southern Lebanon.
Additionally, there were 589 violations involving the UN-delineated Blue Line border between Israel and Lebanon, and 653 Hezbollah patrols along the border fence.
Two incidents in which Israel was attacked, including two rockets fired at Nahariya, were also recorded, as well as 51 violent demonstrations against the IDF.
“Hezbollah has free reign in south Lebanon and instead of reacting forcefully to their violations, the UN is ignoring the problem,” said Danny Danon, ambassador to the UN.
“Israel will continue to show zero tolerance regarding anyone who attacks us,” he told UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon. “The government of Lebanon is not acting and armed Hezbollah operatives are roaming freely throughout the south Lebanon in violation of the UN.”
Via Vosizneias

https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.beeley/posts/10154893518828868 = https://www.facebook.com/Classy.Yemeni/posts/786874451442738

3.3.2017 – Press TV Iran (* A)

Lebanon mulls Iran's military aid offer: Defense minister

The Lebanese defense minister says he will ask the government to take Iran’s past offers of military support seriously after Saudi Arabia's recent decision to retract $4 billion in military aid.

Defense Minister Samir Moqbel said Lebanon had informed Iran of the decision which was to be studied at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

“The Iranian side was informed that when sanctions were lifted on Iran, we would study the Iranian support for the army at the cabinet,” The Daily Star quoted him as saying.

Last month, Saudi Arabia said it had suspended USD 3 billion in military aid to the Lebanese army and another USD 1 billion to the country’s internal security forces.

http://presstv.com/Detail/2016/03/03/453551/Lebanon-Iran-Samir-Moqbel-military-aid-Saudi-Arabia/

4.3.2017 – Frankfurter Rundschau (* B)

Saudi-Arabien bestraft Libanon

Der Golfstaat streicht seine Milliardenhilfen. Die beispiellose Strafaktion der superreichen Monarchie trifft den Zedernstaat wie aus heiterem Himmel und soll offenbar dem regionalen Erzfeind Iran gelten.

Seit anderthalb Jahren hat der Mittelmeeranrainer keinen Präsidenten mehr. Sein Parlament ist faktisch handlungsunfähig, selbst die Müllabfuhr kann das Land nicht zuverlässig organisieren. Alarmiert wandte sich auch Premierminister Tammam Salam an die saudische Führung und bat, den Schritt noch einmal zu überdenken. Libanon sei sehr daran interessiert, dass die „Beziehungen brüderlich und friedlich bleiben“.

Für das Königshaus das Fass zum Überlaufen brachte am Dienstag eine Fernsehrede von Scheich Hassan Nasrallah. Der Hisbollah-Chef warf Saudi-Arabien vor, im Jemen Tag für Tag Kriegsverbrechen und Massaker anzurichten „in Schulen, Krankenhäusern, Moscheen, Universitäten, Markplätzen, Dörfern und Städten“.

Saudi-Arabien dagegen hält der libanesischen Regierung vor, nicht genug gegen die Hisbollah Front zu machen und nach der Hinrichtung des schiitischen Klerikers Nimr al-Nimr die Mob-Attacken auf die saudische Botschaft in Teheran auf einer Sitzung der Arabischen Liga nicht eindeutig verurteilt zu haben. Ungeachtet dessen rätseln Diplomaten und Politiker über die langfristigen strategischen Motive des königlichen Führungstrios, weil ihre Abkehr den Libanon nun vollends in die Arme des Iran treiben und die Macht der Hisbollah weiter stärken könnte – von Martin Gehlen

http://www.fr-online.de/politik/saudi-arabien-saudi-arabien-bestraft-libanon,1472596,33912014.html

3.3.2016 – New York Times (unrated A)

Even as Iran and Saudi Arabia supported opposite sides in a bitter and bloody proxy war in Syria, the two adversaries managed to preserve a tense calm just over the border in Lebanon, where they have long competed for influence.

Saudi Arabia has stopped providing billions of dollars in aid to Lebanon, presumably as punishment for Hezbollah supporting Iran in Syria. The New York Times reports that Saudi Arabia also announced a travel warning against Saudi citizens visiting Lebanon and declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist group, in addition to cutting aid. This course of action is viewed as impulsive or foolish by observers, and few expect it to result in Lebanon loosening its ties to Iran. Rather, the more probable outcome is that it will allow Iran to gain more influence in the region – by Anne Barnard (paywalled)

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/03/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-cuts-billions-in-aid-to-lebanon-opening-door-for-iran.html?_r=0

6.3.2017 – Press TV Iran (* A)

Israel planning new war on Lebanon: Report

The Israeli regime is seeking to launch a new war on Lebanon in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to cut its multi-billion-dollar aid to the Lebanese army, a report says.

The Beirut-based al-Akhbarnewspaper said on Saturday that American officials, whose names were not mentioned in the report, have warned Beirut that the Tel Aviv regime is planning to launch another war against the Arab country.

The Americans told the Lebanese “not to give Israel an excuse to start a war,” al-Akhbar said, adding that the US officials had been informed by their Israeli counterparts that the regime is interested in attacking Lebanon, particularly in light of Saudi Arabia’s strategic shift in policy.

http://presstv.com/Detail/2016/03/06/454081/Lebanon-Israel-Al-Akhbar-Hezbollah/

7.3.2016 – Yalibnan (* A)

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard using Lebanon for Yemen, Syria Operations, says Mashnouq

Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on Sunday of using Lebanon as an “operations room” for its activities in Yemen, Syria and other countries.

“Our stance is clear on rejecting Hezbollah’s interference and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is using Lebanon as an operations room for its foreign operations in Yemen, Syria and other places,” Mashnouq said in an interview with Al-Arabiya television.

“We will do all we can to prevent Lebanon from being turned into a Persian thorn in the thigh of Arabs,” the minister vowed.

“The entire world will realize that in Lebanon there are political forces that do not accept that Lebanon be taken hostage of foreign policies that are not in the interest of the Lebanese,” Mashnouq said on Sunday.

“Arab negligence towards Lebanon is what made us reach this situation. The Arab confrontation decision goes back to a few weeks ago only while we have been offering martyrs for the past ten years,” he told the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television.

Mashnouq was speaking only hours after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah renewed his verbal attacks against Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf countries over the conflicts in Yemen, Iraq and Syria and linked Riyadh’s latest measures against Lebanon and Hezbollah to what he called the kingdom’s “failure in Yemen and Syria.”

http://yalibnan.com/2016/03/07/irans-revolutionary-guard-using-lebanon-for-yemen-syria-operations-says-mashnouq/

7.3.2016 – Al Monitor (** B)

Hezbollah responds to GCC decision

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah defiantly challenged the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) official declaration of his group as a terrorist organization, saying Saudi Arabia is the real loser because it lacks the backing of many Arab countries.

On March 6, in his first response to the GCC's pronouncement March 2, Hezbollah Secretary-General Nasrallah doubled down on his criticism of Saudi Arabia, indicating he is undeterred.

His reaction, however, may not necessarily trigger tension in Lebanon.

Speaking via video from Ansar, Lebanon,Nasrallah impliedthat the reaction of the Arab people toward the GCC decision was a defeat for Riyadh.

Many prominent figures from across the Arab worldrejected the decision, citing Hezbollah's role in fighting Israeli occupation and liberating Lebanese territory.

Nasrallah also noted that there was no consensus on the topic at the March 2 meeting in Tunisia of the Arab interior ministers. When that meeting ended with an official statementdesignating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, bothLebanonandIraqobjected andAlgeria dissociated itself. Tunisia's minister signed the statement, but the country's president laterrejected the terrorism label.

The Hezbollah leader said Saudi Arabia is failing in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain and appeared to mock Riyadh. “I understand the Saudi anger,” he said. “When one fails, he becomes angry — the least he could do is get angry.”

A source close to Hezbollah who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said Nasrallah’s statements reflect “a form of psychological warfare, similar to the method employed against Israel, by highlighting Hezbollah’s strengths and Saudi Arabia’s weaknesses.”

Hezbollah is already considered a terrorist organization by the United States and many of its Western allies.

Riyadh views Hezbollah as a central player in the Iranian-led Shiite regional axis, which includes Iraq and Syria. Riyadh's sentiment against Hezbollah appears to reflect an escalation against this regional bloc as a whole, which became more evident as thenuclear agreementbetween Iran and six world powers went into effect Jan. 16.

The latest measures toward Lebanon, the escalation toward Hezbollah and the significant Saudi setbacks in the proxy wars in Syria and Yemen all seem to reflect the latest round in the intensifying feud between Riyadh and the Iranian-led regional axis.

However, it is not clear what more Riyadh can do against Hezbollah, nor does Riyadh seem likely to succeed in isolating the movement in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a consensus that the “no holds barred” match between Hezbollah and Riyadh will not inflame tensions in Lebanon. The Hezbollah official said, “The final decision on whether or not to escalate in Lebanon does not rest with the Saudis, but rather with the Americans,” adding that the Americans “do not want escalationin Lebanon.”

According to INEGMA's Kahwaji, the pro-Saudi March 14 bloc in Lebanon not only has ties with Riyadh, but also with countries “like the US and France who do not share with Saudi Arabia the exact same policy toward Lebanon.”

The major US concern regarding Lebanon is toprevent the Islamic State(IS) from expanding there from Syria. On Jan. 22, the head of the US Central Command, Gen. Lloyd Austin,visited Lebanonand pledged support for the Lebanese army, which has been engaged in border clashes with militants.

While Saudi Arabia may view Lebanon as the latest arena in which to settle scores with the Iranian-led axis, the kingdom's Western allies appear keen to maintain Lebanon's stability. They want to preserve what remains of the functioning Lebanese institutions, particularly theLebanese governmentheaded by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who is calling for Hezbollah to improve its ties with Saudi Arabia – by Ali Rizk

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/03/lebanon-hezbollah-speech-saudi-arabia-gcc-terrorist.html

Comment: You wouldn't think from the reaction of the world that Hezbollah takes part in elections and Saudi Arabia is an autocratic and despotic country; that Saudi Arabia exports an extremist version of Islam in Wahhabism all over the world and Hezbollah doesn't, that Saudi Arabian troops have been seen fighting next to Al Qaeda in Yemen and Hezbollah has never had links with Al Qaeda, that Saudi Arabia regularly executes its opponents and Hezbollah doesn't and in fact after the exit of Israel from Lebanon encouraged Lebanese Christians who had supported the Israeli occupation to return to their homes and did not persecute them; that 16 out of 19 involved in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi and none from Hezbollah; that it is Saudi not Hezbollah that cuts off heads and hands and administers lashes; that it is Saudi that is associated with funding of Al Qaeda and Islamic State; that it is Hezbollah fighting against Islamic State not Saudi Arabia. What is the world coming to ?

https://www.facebook.com/judith.brown.794628/posts/10154156709228641

8.3.2016 – Washington Institute (* B)

Hezbollah Labeled Terrorist by GCC States – But What Do Their People Think?

In a remarkable if little-noticed development last week, all six GCC states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain – formally designated the Lebanese movement Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. This week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called this step “important and even amazing,” but the fact is that the decision has nothing to do with Israel. Rather, the move follows several years of growing Arab estrangement from Hezbollah over an expanding array of other issues: Hezbollah’s active military aid for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, support for the Shiite Houthi opposition in Yemen, close ties with GCC arch-rival Iran, and reported involvement with terrorism, subversion, and espionage inside most GCC countries.

So Nasrallah’s outburst, self-serving as it may be, does raise a legitimate question: do Arab publics continue to support Hezbollah, even if their governments do not?
One place to begin looking for an answer to this question is the Arab press.

But beyond this controlled press, which largely reflects official or at least elite attitudes, the evidence from polling data more conclusively demonstrates Hezbollah’s precipitous loss of popularity on the GCC street.

There is, however, one Arab society—namely, the Palestinians—where a real dichotomy exists between popular and official views of Hezbollah –by David Pollock

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/hezbollah-labeled-terrorist-by-gcc-states-but-what-do-their-people-think

Comment by Judith Brown: This is an article by WINEP - a pro Israeli think tank. But the decision of the GCC has the potential of destabilising Lebanon and putting yet another country into turmoil. It was the Arab states that drew up the current political system in Lebanon as a means of ending the 17 year long civil war there - the Taif accords. Now they are reneging on that agreement - and becoming very friendly with Israel too.

https://www.facebook.com/judith.brown.794628/posts/10154163484973641

09:42 28.12.2017
Dieser Beitrag gibt die Meinung des Autors wieder, nicht notwendigerweise die der Redaktion des Freitag.
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Dietrich Klose

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