Libanon-Mosaik / Lebanon Mosaic 2

Libanon in den Medien: Die Libanon-Krise geht weiter, Premierminister Hariri ist immer noch in Riad - The Lebanon crisis continues, Prime Minister Hariri still is at Riyadh
Bei diesem Beitrag handelt es sich um ein Blog aus der Freitag-Community

Schwerpunkte / Key aspects

Klassifizierung / Classification

cp1 Weitere Verwicklungen / Further implication

cp2 Hariris „Rücktritt“ / Hariri’s „withdrawal“

cp 3 Libanon in der Krise / Lebanon in crisis

cp4 Israel

cp5 Propaganda

cp6 Mehr / More

Klassifizierung / Classification

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(Kein Stern / No star)

A = Aktuell / Current news

B = Hintergrund / Background

C = Chronik / Chronicle

D = Details

E = Wirtschaft / Economy

H = Humanitäre Fragen / Humanitarian questions

K = Krieg / War

P = Politik / Politics

T = Terrorismus / Terrorism

cp1 Weitere Verwicklungen / Further implication

(* B P)

The Iran-Saudi Powerplay: A War Of Words Or Rhetoric? – OpEd

The reality on the ground is that the Saudis have funded DAESH ever since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, as we know from the Wikileaks documents, Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and the Defense Intelligence Agency document of 2012 that the Saudis supported the extremists in order to overthrow the Assad Government. However, Hezbollah was one of the most effective forces in the fight against DAESH, and we are close to seeing the end of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

If there was a driver for instability in the Middle East, it should be made very clear to many Middle East analysts that it is clearly the Saudis. What is being done to the Lebanese Prime Minister is quite unprecedented given the fact that he resigned in Saudi Arabia on Saudi state TV without the Lebanese people even aware of what was going on, and Hariri holds dual citizenship as a Saudi and a Lebanese just like his father Rafic Hariri.

The only country with whom Lebanon can geographically have a war with is Israel, and there have always been a multitude of tensions between the two sides for decades. Nobody can disagree that there is a competition between Riyadh and Tehran for dominance in the Middle East, but it is by no means a footnote to have a Prime Minister of a country resign in a different country whose whereabouts are unknown. This has resulted as a front against Lebanese sovereignty, but the big picture cannot be complete if we don’t say that the interference is not just from Saudi Arabia, but from Iran and other regional players in the Middle East as well.

The Lebanese public is very concerned about escalation, but there is also a national unity within the government and the Lebanese people that because Lebanon is so small and has had a long track record of foreign interference, there needs to be a national unity where escalation is unnecessary and there is no appetite for yet another civil war. The political parties in Lebanon do not want to turn against each other and the only way forward is national unity.

Lebanon could become the next victim of the Iranian-Saudi powerplay in the Middle East.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/15112017-the-iran-saudi-powerplay-a-war-of-words-or-rhetoric-oped/

(* B P)

Entangling alliances

World powers have indicated that none support a new major confrontation in the Middle East, whether in Lebanon or with Iran, but how long strategic restraint can last is an open question

The latest regional developments in the Middle East have raised alarm bells among world powers. From their perspective, whether in Western capitals or in Moscow, the situation in the region was already unstable enough. French President Emmanuel Macron, who went to the United Arab Emirates to participate in the inauguration of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi last week, flew to Saudi Arabia Thursday, 9 November, on an unscheduled visit in an attempt to calm things down. Uppermost on his mind was the situation in Lebanon. He also talked about a possible mediation between Riyadh and Tehran. After meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, he said that he had listened to very harsh positions regarding Iran that do not conform to his own position in this respect. For the West and Russia, the present situation in the Middle East calls for cool heads and strategic restraint to prevail.

The clear message is that the great powers will not allow their allies and partners in the Middle East to start a war based on their own interests and calculations. Although the battle lines are quite clearly defined among regional and Arab powers, major world capitals are not ready for another military adventure in the Middle East, even if their regional allies think otherwise.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/23002.aspx

My comment: This is from Egypt and certainly reflects Egypt’s official position. Let’s hope the author is right. Looking at the US, I am in doubt.

And also:

(* B P)

No room for war

The surprise resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri while on a visit to Saudi Arabia last week led to series of repercussions that created serious fears that the region might be on the brink of a major war. Al-Hariri, a dual Lebanese-Saudi citizen, blamed Iran for his resignation, saying that it was interfering in his country’s internal affairs and pushing it to take part in outside wars in nearby Syria, Iraq and Yemen through its armed Shia ally, Hizbullah.

While most world countries called for caution and the need to avoid escalation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the resignation of the Lebanese prime minister, while more and more Lebanese parties refused the move and claimed that Al-Hariri was being kept in Riyadh, together with his family, against his will. The statements made by Netanyahu increased fears that Israel might take the opportunity to launch a new war against its arch enemy, Hizbullah. Israel would never forgive the humiliating defeat it suffered after it failed to crush Hizbullah in its failed war against Lebanon in 2006.

Egypt, being an influential regional power, felt that serious effort was needed to calm the sudden escalation in tensions

There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia is much closer to Egypt than Iran, but this doesn’t mean supporting military adventures, especially if all our recent experiences proved that wars only make the situation worse and far more complicated.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/23011.aspx

My comment: As above.

(* B P)

Saudi–Iranian Rivalry in Lebanon

As Riyadh’s rivalry with Tehran in the Levant turns to Lebanon, its increasing pressure on Hezbollah threatens to severely destabilize the country.

The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on November 4—announced from Saudi Arabia, which built on his statements by accusing Lebanon of waging war against it and calling on its citizens to leave the Mediterranean country—has heightened justifiable concerns that the crisis could escalate into a new Middle Eastern war. Hariri’s resignation signals Riyadh’s increased efforts to counter Hezbollah and turn more Lebanese against the Iran-backed group.

Riyadh wants to use its leverage over Hariri to interrupt any power-sharing equilibrium that legitimizes Hezbollah.

Yet previous efforts coordinated by Hezbollah’s enemies to weaken it have been unsuccessful, which naturally raises questions about how easily the Saudis will be able to counter Hezbollah’s power in the Levant, particularly given the extent to which the kingdom is bogged down in Yemen. Additionally, Tillerson’s response to the Lebanon crisis—warning on November 10 against “using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts”—suggests that Trump, members of his administration, and the U.S. diplomatic and defense establishment are not on the same page, just as they were not during the blockade of Qatar in June – by Theodore Karasik and Giorgio Cafiero

http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/74718

(* B P)

Saudi Arabia and Iran May Be Headed Toward War

Recent power struggles in Riyadh, the shooting down of a Yemeni missile over the Saudi capital, and rising Saudi alarm over Iran’s strengthening position in the Middle East have created a potentially deadly brew of instability.

War between the two major powers can start anywhere in the region, including in the Persian Gulf. But Lebanon may be the fault line of a possible earthquake. Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s erstwhile prime minister, was recently summoned to Riyadh and resigned his position over Iranian “meddling.” However, reports indicate that he quit power under Saudi duress. Riyadh has also accused Hezbollah, Iran’s greatest ally in the region, of declaring war against Saudi Arabia. Israel, worried about Iran’s expansion in Syria and Iraq and Hezbollah’s growing military strength, is reported to be forming a partnership with the Saudis in order to roll back Iranian influence.
Jerusalem and Riyadh’s concerns with Iran’s power are shared by the Trump administration, which has not only criticized the Iran nuclear agreement but indicated a more aggressive push against Tehran’s regional power.
Saudi Arabia, beset by domestic woes and a grinding war in Yemen, may be tempted by a military option against Iran. Its enthusiasm for the use of arms may also be shared by Israel’s political leadership and some elements of the US government. However, a war against Iran is highly risky and highly unlikely to erode Iranian power or weaken the Islamic Republic at home. If anything, Iran has demonstrated an uncanny ability to exploit US strategy in the Middle East to further its own interests. A more assertive US/Saudi/Israeli approach could backfire spectacularly, plunging the region into further chaos without solving the Arab/Persian rivalry.

Thus, Riyadh may have viewed Lebanon as a tempting target to punish Iran. The Hariri government’s political coalition with Hezbollah gave a veneer of legitimacy to Iranian influence in Beirut. And it would have complicated a stronger US/Israeli/Saudi push against Hezbollah. With Hariri out of the way, Riyadh can apply political and economic pressure against Hezbollah while Israel considers military action against its growing missile capabilities. Hezbollah, bled by its involvement in the Syrian conflict, may be viewed as being particularly vulnerable by its many opponents.
But Riyadh’s strategy carries enormous risk.

An Israeli conflict with Hezbollah, supported by Washington and Riyadh, could quickly draw in Iran and spread to the Persian Gulf, one of the most heavily armed regions in the world – by Alireza Nader

http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/iraninsight/saudi-arabia-and-iran-may-be-headed-toward-war = https://www.rand.org/blog/2017/11/saudi-arabia-and-iran-may-be-headed-toward-war.html

(* A P)

Saudi Arabia is creating a total mess in Lebanon

As if we Arabs need another crisis in our shattered world — but that’s exactly what’s coming after themysterious resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Riyadh last Saturday and declarations from the Saudi royal court that Iran has officially crossed a red line.

Now Saudi Arabia has created a problem for itself with some of its staunchest allies: the Sunnis of Lebanon. Even the Sunnis are aligning with different sects, some who are not friendly to Riyadh, to demand the return of Hariri, also a Sunni. It will be impossible to elect a new prime minister in Lebanon unless Hariri is returned. That is a new predicament that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, has created — and now needs to solve.

Saudi Arabia has its justification to declare war against Hezbollah: The kingdom, as the young Saudi hawk and minister Thamer al-Sabhan recently declared, no longer distinguishes between the group and the Lebanese government.

Lebanon finds itself in a bind: It wants to have good tourism and investment relations with Saudi Arabia. At the same time, it sees what Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon and, more important, next door in Syria, where its members fight rebels and support a dictator. Hariri was sincere in his resignation speech when he said Hezbollah was a state within a state — and one that made him fear for his life – By Jamal Khashoggi

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/11/13/saudi-arabia-is-creating-a-total-mess-in-lebanon/?utm_term=.256c50a4ee8a

(* A P)

Die Krise in Beirut droht außer Kontrolle zu geraten

Der möglicherweise erzwungene Rücktritt des libanesischen Premierministers könnte den Konflikt zwischen Saudi-Arabien und Iran eskalieren lassen. Und die gesamte Region ins Wanken bringen. Libanon ist nur der jüngste Schauplatz der Auseinandersetzung, jedoch ein gefährlicher. US-Präsident Donald Trump bestärkt die Saudis und Israel in ihrer harten Haltung. Ein Angriff auf Hisbollah-Ziele in Libanon allerdings wäre so töricht wie verheerend. Als Antwort würden Tausende Raketen Israel treffen und einen Konflikt heraufbeschwören, der auf beiden Seiten weit mehr Menschenleben kosten, weit größere Zerstörungen anrichten würde als jener im Jahr 2006. Auch ein Krieg zwischen Iran und Saudi-Arabien wäre dann nicht ausgeschlossen. Wahrscheinlicher ist deshalb ein Embargo nach dem Modell Katar. Libanon ist wirtschaftlich verwundbar, die Saudis haben viel Geld in den Banken dort angelegt.

Die große Gefahr liegt darin, dass kleinste Provokationen Libanon zum Kippen bringen können – http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/spannungen-im-nahen-osten-die-krise-in-beirut-droht-ausser-kontrolle-zu-geraten-1.3745956

(* A P)

How the Saudi Plot to Topple the Lebanese Government Backfired

The Saudis may be holding the Lebanese Prime Minister hostage but their apparent plan to topple the Beirut government has gloriously backfired. Far from breaking up the cabinet and throwing Hezbollah’s ministers to the wolves, the Lebanese nation has suddenly woken up to what it’s like to be united – against the Saudis. The Lebanese government has announced that it does not accept the resignation statement which Saad Hariri was obliged to make in Riyadh, and overnight hashtags have appeared on several Beirut streets saying “kul na Saad” – “We are all Saad”. Even the Sunni Muslims of Lebanon are furious at their Sunni counterparts in Saudi Arabia.

The greatest fear in little Lebanon now is that the Saudis, having told their citizens in Beirut to leave the country – there are in fact very few here – will demand that more than 200,000 Lebanese citizens in the Gulf leave Saudi Arabia. These are mainly middle-management people in banks and government, and Saudi Arabia could scarcely do without them. But such an order would have a grave economic effect on Lebanon.

Hariri’s next visitor is likely to be the Lebanese Catholic Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who is due in Saudi Arabia on an official visit on Monday. Rai is an ambitious and unyielding cleric who has apparently been told he can see Hariri – though why the Saudis have the right to decide if a Lebanese patriarch can meet his own prime minister remains one of the Kingdom’s current mysteries – by Robert Fisk

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/13/how-the-saudi-plot-to-topple-the-lebanese-government-backfired/

cp2 Hariris „Rücktritt“ / Hariri’s „withdrawal“

(* A P)

Hariri will in nächsten zwei Tagen in Libanon zurückkehren

Auf Twitter äußert sich der zurückgetretene Regierungschef Saad al Hariri konkrekt, wann er wieder in den Libanon zurückreisen will. Frankreichs Präsident Macron bemüht sich derweil um eine Initiative im UN-Sicherheitsrat.

Nach seiner Rücktrittserklärung hat der libanesische Premierminister Saad al Hariri angekündigt, innerhalb von zwei Tagen aus Saudi-Arabien in seine Heimat zurückzukehren. „Mir geht es gut und, so Gott will, werde ich in den nächsten zwei Tagen zurückkommen“, schrieb der 47-Jährige am Dienstag auf Twitter. Angesichts der Gerüchte, er sei von Riad zu der Rücktrittsankündigung Anfang November gezwungen worden und werde dort festgehalten, rief er dazu auf, Ruhe zu bewahren.

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/libanon-hariri-will-in-den-naechsten-zwei-tagen-zurueckkehren-15292651.html und auch http://www.n-tv.de/politik/Hariri-kuendigt-Rueckkehr-nach-Libanon-an-article20132727.html

(** A P)

RÄTSEL UM PREMIER DES LIBANON: „Das ist nicht der Hariri, den wir kennen“

Libanons Ministerpräsident wollte Gerüchte zerstreuen, er werde gegen seinen Willen in Saudi-Arabien festgehalten. Doch sein Interview, bei dem er fast in Tränen ausbrach, führte zu neuen Spekulationen.

Seitdem Libanons Premierminister Saad Hariri am 4. November plötzlich mit einer Ansprache im saudi-arabischen Fernsehen sein Amt niederlegte, beschäftigt die Region eine Frage: Was genau ist mit dem Premier los? Die überraschende Verlautbarung, die den Libanon ins Chaos stürzen und eine neue Phase eskalierender Konflikte zwischen Saudi-Arabien und seinem Erzfeind Iran einläuten könnte, gab vielen Rätsel auf. Nicht nur, weil sie so unerwartet war, sondern auch wegen Hariris Verhalten seither.

So meldete sich der Premier selbst bei seinen eigenen Anhängern nicht mehr zu Wort, sondern verschanzte sich in seinem Anwesen in Riad. Die Nachrichtenagentur Reuters berichtete, die Saudis hätten sein Handy konfisziert. In Beirut ist man nun überzeugt, Hariri werde gegen seinen Willen festgehalten, ähnlich wie JemensPräsident Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, der angeblich seit Monaten unter Hausarrest steht.

„Geisel“ titelte eine libanesische Tageszeitung in großen Lettern über Hariris Porträt. Staatspräsident Michel Aoun sprach von „mysteriösen Umständen“, die Hariris Aufenthalt in Riad umgäben. Die weckten den Verdacht, Hariri habe sein Amt „nicht aus freien Stücken“ niedergelegt.

Um die Gerüchte zu zerstreuen, er werde gegen seinen Willen festgehalten, gab Hariri nun ein Live-Interview. Das Ergebnis ist allerdings zwiespältig.

Eine Stunde lang bemühte Hariri sich, alle Verdachtsmomente zu entkräften, was ihm misslang.

https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article170571339/Das-ist-nicht-der-Hariri-den-wir-kennen.html

(** A P)

Saudi-Arabiens Puppentheater mit Hariri: "Sie wissen genau, was sie tun"?

Das Königreich hat sich verspielt, wie sich an der Affäre des libanesischen Premierministers zeigt, der seinen Rücktritt nun halb zurücknimmt

Was die destabilisierende, impulsive Interventionspolitik von Mohammad Bin Salman, vor welcher der BND im Dezember 2015 warnte, auslösen kann, wurde vergangene Woche deutlich: Aus dem Jemen kamen Nachrichten, wonach die saudische Abriegelung nicht einmal mehr Hilfsgüter für Hungernde und Kranke ins Land lässt, und Spekulationen darüber, dass im Libanon der nächste kriegerische Konflikt ausbrechen könnte, gewannen an Fahrt.

Umgehend sorgten sich selbst nüchterne Beobachter darüber, ob hier versucht wird, einen Waffengang gegen die Hizbollah anzuzetteln, der auch Iran hineinziehen würde. Der Eindruck, dass sich eine Eskalation anbahnt, wurde von Kriegserklärungen aus Saudi-Arabien begleitet, die Richtung Hizbollah und Iran zielten (Saudi-Arabien hebt Konflikt mit Iran auf die nächste Stufe.

Die Erklärungen waren eigenartig formuliert - "Wir werden die Regierung des Libanon wegen der Hisbollah-Miliz als eine Regierung betrachten, die Saudi-Arabien den Krieg erklärt". Die Kriegserklärungen machten großen Krach, bleiben aber in letzter Konsequenz vage.

Zuerst sprach man von einem "möglichen Kriegsakt" Irans, dann druckste Außenminister Jubeir bei einem Interview bei genaueren Nachfragen um die Festlegung herum, ob der Raketenangriff tatsächlich als Kriegsakt einzustufen sein.

Europäisch gelernte Seriosität war kein Kriterium, den man bei diesen Vorgängen anlegen kann. Das war spätestens nach der Erklärung aus Frankreichs Regierung klar, wonach sich der libanesische Premierminister ihrer Einschätzung nach "frei bewegen" könne.

Diese Einschätzung war je nach Blickrichtung ein Irrtum, eine Irreführung oder eine Verlegenheit. Richtig war sie nicht

Am gestrigen Sonntagabend gab Saad Hariri dem ihm engstens verbundenen libanesischen Sender Futur (al-Mustaqbal)-TV, der den gleichen Namen trägt wie seine Partei. Er sollte nun selbst die offenstehenden Fragen klären. Nach Aussage von Beobachtern war es ein sehr seltsames Interview.

Hariri erklärte u.a., dass er in Saudi-Arabien frei sei, dass er sofort reisen könne, wenn er wolle, dass er aber noch in einem Reflexionsprozess sei. In zwei oder drei Tagen würde er in den Libanon zurückkehren. An seiner Rücktrittserklärung halte er nicht unbedingt fest. Er warnte erneut vor der Einmischung Irans - in "allen arabischen Ländern", wiederholte den Zusammenhang mit der Hizbollah, deutete jedoch auch an, dass man ein "Gespräch mit der Hizbollah" über die Bewaffnung führen müsse.

Es gab kaum Beobachter, die vom Interview davon überzeugt wurden, dass von Saudi-Arabien kein Druck auf Hariri ausgeübt wurde, dass er ein freier Mann ist, dass er nicht für politische Zwecke instrumentalisiert wurde. Den meisten ist klar, dass Hariri von Saudi-Arabien als Marionette behandelt wird.

Die Frage ist, worin die politischen Ziele der pfuschigen Inszenierung bestehen. Einen Krieg im Libanon wollen weder die Libanesen, denen der jahrelange Bürgerkrieg im Land noch sehr gut in Erinnerung ist, noch die USA, wie Tillersons Äußerungen zur Affäre Hariri deutlich machen, weder die EU, die neue Kriegsflüchtlinge zu befürchteten hätte, noch Israel, dessen Regierung das Risiko für die eigene Bevölkerung bei einem Krieg mit der Hizbollah sehr gut einzuschätzen weiß.

Im Libanon erfolgte auf die Drohgebärden aus Saudi-Arabien eine Reaktion, die Solidarität über mehrere Fronten hinweg gegen den Versuch der Einmischung von außen herstellte. Der Einfluss Saudi-Arabiens ist, um es milde zu formulieren, nicht gerade gestiegen.

Dass Hariri in seinem Interview andeutete, dass man mit der Hizbollah reden solle, ist ein Indiz dafür, dass der Führung In Riad eine Ahnung gekommen ist, dass der harte Konfrontationskurs wahrscheinlich der falsche Ansatz war. Man rudert in kleinen Schritten zurück. Da hat sich jemand überschätzt und wurde sachte zurückgepfiffen. Man darf gespannt sein, was diesem Fiasko folgt.

https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Saudi-Arabiens-Puppentheater-mit-Hariri-Sie-wissen-genau-was-sie-tun-3888958.html

(A P)

France says it has invited the Lebanese PM to France... but only after speaking to the Saudi Crown Prince: ===> ”After conversing with #Saudi Crown Prince Mohamad Ben Salman and Lebanese PM Saad #Hariri, the President of the Republic invited Saad Hariri and his family to #France

https://twitter.com/AymanM/status/930916813403316224

(A P)

Announcement of French presidential invitation to Saad Hariri & family to come to France as French FM travels to Riyadh. Seems intended to press KSA to let him depart

https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/930855527327944707

(A P)

I call on the govts of Germany, Sweden, #Canada to invite hostage #Lebanese PM #Hariri to visit their countries to save his life

https://twitter.com/AliAlAhmed_en/status/930872090605096960

(* A B P)

Saudi Arabia holding PM Hariri & family in ‘act of aggression’ – Lebanese president

The Lebanese president has publicly acknowledged that Prime Minister Saad Hariri is being detained in Saudi Arabia along with his family, calling it “an act of aggression” against Lebanon.

“Nothing justifies Hariri’s lack of return for 12 days. We therefore consider him detained,” President Michel Aoun told reporters on Wednesday, as cited by Reuters. This was his strongest-worded statement yet on the situation around the Lebanese prime minister, who is said to be stuck in Riyadh.

Aoun said the Saudis were also holding family members of Hariri, adding: “We have not previously asked for their return, but we have confirmed that [his family] is also detained and family members are being searched as they enter and leave the house.”

Hariri abruptly resigned in a surprise announcement broadcast from the Saudi capital on November 4, pushing Lebanon towards political uncertainty. The prime minister has remained in the Kingdom since then, though he reaffirmed in a tweet on Wednesday that he was “perfectly fine” and said he will return “to dear Lebanon as I promised.”

The fact that he is still in the Saudi Kingdom, however, has given rise to speculation that he is not acting on his own free will.

https://www.rt.com/news/409948-saudi-detention-hariri-aggression

Remark: Overview.

(* A P)

Lebanon accuses Saudi Arabia of holding its PM hostage

Lebanon’s president on Wednesday accused Saudi Arabia of holding hostage prime minister Saad al-Hariri along with his family - the first time he has explicitly said he was being held - and called this an act of aggression.

“We will not accept him remaining a hostage whose reason for detention we do not know,” President Michel Aoun said in a statement.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the head of Aoun’s political party, said the situation was “not normal” but that Beirut wanted “good relations” with Riyadh.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics/lebanon-accuses-saudi-arabia-of-holding-its-pm-hostage-idUSKBN1DF18A

(B P)

INTERCEPTED PODCAST: THE DISTRACTION IN CHIEF

This week on Intercepted, Rami Khouri breaks down Saudi Arabia’s agenda in the Middle East, its destruction of Yemen, and the bizarre case of the exiled Lebanese prime minister.

https://theintercept.com/2017/11/15/intercepted-podcast-the-distraction-in-chief/

(A P)

Lebanon president says Saudi holds Hariri, calls it aggression: reports

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia had detained Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the first time he had said so publicly, and called it an act of aggression against Lebanon.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics/lebanon-president-says-saudi-holds-hariri-calls-it-aggression-reports-idUSKBN1DF18A

(A P)

Lebanon president: Saudi also holding Hariri's family

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday Saudi Arabia was also holding the family of Saad al-Hariri, who resigned from his post as Lebanon’s prime minister on Nov. 4 from Riyadh and has yet to return to Lebanon.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics-aoun/lebanon-president-saudi-also-holding-hariris-family-idUSKBN1DF1JA

(A P)

MP in Hariri's party: Hariri says Saudi not holding him, his family

A member of the political party of Saad al-Hariri, who resigned from his post as Lebanon’s prime minister on Nov. 4 from Saudi Arabia, denied Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s claim on Wednesday that Riyadh was holding both Hariri and his family.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics-hariri-family/mp-in-hariris-party-hariri-says-saudi-not-holding-him-his-family-idUSKBN1DF1NM

(** B P)

Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s return to Lebanon: A moment of truth

The proof will be in the pudding when Prime Minister Saad Hariri returns home in the coming days to a country in which friend and foe have rallied around him and he clarifies whether he intends to follow through on his controversial decision to resign.

Few in Lebanon and beyond believe that Mr. Hariri, a dual Lebanese-Saudi citizen whose family company in the kingdom declared bankruptcy earlier this year in one of the first casualties of Saudi Arabia’s fiscal crisis, voluntarily stepped down on November 4 while on a visit to Riyadh.

Mr. Hariri’s subsequent interview on his own Lebanese television station did little to erase suspicion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman forced him to resign in an opening bid to counter Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militia that constitutes one of Lebanon’s most formidable political forces. Mr. Hariri warned that Saudi Arabia and its allies could ride roughshod on Lebanon’s economy by imposing sanctions and expelling hundreds of thousands of Lebanese employed in the kingdom.

The fact that Mr. Hariri announced that he would leave his wife and children in the kingdom when he returns to Beirut will reinforce suspicion of Saudi arm twisting should he, once back in the Lebanese capital, move forward with his resignation.

Further calling into question Mr. Hariri’s independence, were reports that Khalid al-Tuwaijri, the head of late King Abdullah’s court, who was among scores of princes, officials and businessmen arrested earlier this month on corruption charges in a sweeping purge, had illicitly paid the Hariri family company $9 billion.

Rumours that Prince Mohammed’s leverage over Mr. Hariri involves the prime minister potentially been sucked into the crown prince’s power grab, executed under the mum of an anti-corruption campaign, were reinforced by the fact that the fate of one of Mr. Hariri’s closest Saudi business associates, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, remains unclear – by James M. Dorsey

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/prime-minister-saad-hariris-return-to-lebanon-a-moment_us_5a0bc0fce4b060fb7e59d4ae

(* A P)

Prime Minister Saad Hariri tells Lebanese to ‘chill,’ he will return

Some suggest the Saudis forced him to resign to wreck the coalition government.

Ten days after his surprise resignation plunged Lebanon into crisis and raised fears of regional turmoil, Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday called on everyone to “chill.”

In his first personal tweet since traveling to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, where he announced he would step down in a prerecorded message that led many to think he was being held against his will, Hariri said he planned to return to Lebanon in the next two days.

“People, I am fine. And God willing I will come back in a couple of days. Let’s chill.” Hariri wrote, adding that he was in good shape.

Lebanon’s foreign minister meanwhile said during a trip to Paris that his country may resort to international law to determine Hariri’s condition, suggesting he is being held under some form of house arrest, if he doesn’t return to Lebanon.

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/14/prime-minister-saad-hariri-tells-lebanese-to-chill-he-will-return/

My comment: Telling this by twitter????

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Lebanon’s Christian Maronite Patriarch, visiting Saudi Arabia in an historic visit to the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, expressed support on Tuesday for the reasons behind Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s resignation.

Patriarch Bechara al-Rai met Hariri as well as King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of a trip that was planned well before the Lebanese political crisis brought on by Hariri’s resignation.

“Hariri is returning as fast as possible and I support the reasons for his resignation,” Rai was quoted as saying by Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.

Hariri said he was fine and would return to Lebanon in the next two days. On Twitter, he urged Lebanese to remain calm and said his family would stay in Saudi Arabia, calling it “their country”.

Flanked by Catholic clerics wearing vestments and gold crosses, Rai discussed religious tolerance and combating extremism with the king and his son, the Saudi state news agency said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-lebanon-patriarch/lebanese-patriarch-in-saudi-says-supports-reasons-hariri-quit-idUSKBN1DE1XW

Comment: It is more disturbing the #Saudi Monarchy is now holding hostage @saadhariri family after letting him return to #Lebanon. It is outrageously criminal & condemned

https://twitter.com/AliAlAhmed_en/status/930471615485431808

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Visiting Lebanese patriarch meets Saad al-Hariri in Saudi Arabia: Arabiya TV

Lebanon’s Christian Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai met on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia with Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister from Riyadh on Nov. 4, according to Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-lebanon-patriarch-hariri/visiting-lebanese-patriarch-meets-saad-al-hariri-in-saudi-arabia-arabiya-tv-idUSKBN1DE19M

and by Saudi media:
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Visiting Lebanese patriarch meets Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia

Lebanon’s Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, head of the Maronite Church, met on Tuesday with Saad Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister from Riyadh on Nov. 4.
Patriarch Al-Rahi is making a historic first visit to Saudi Arabia. He arrived in Riyadh on Monday evening and met with community members.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1193256/saudi-arabia

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Why Lebanon faces another crisis – and what Saudi Arabia stands to lose

The Twitter account of Lebanon’s prime minister, Sa'ad Hariri has been inactive since November 6, just after he announced his resignation in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh.

Rumours continue, however, that Hariri’s absence was not voluntary but instead imposed by the Saudi government, in particular Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, Riyadh’s newly empowered strongman. Despite Hariri’s protests to the contrary, the theory that this was a Saudi intervention is certainly plausible.

As some onlookers pointed out, Hariri’s speech used expressions and terms that are typical of Saudi public rhetoric against Iran. He explicitly accused Iran of interfering in Lebanon’s domestic affairs and in disrupting Arab politics, and referred to Hezbollah, the militarised Lebanese Shia movement, as an Iranian proxy force – even though he became prime minister partly thanks to Hezbollah’s tactical support.

Relevant to all this is that the Saudi government is under serious internal and external pressure.

The Saudis’ moves are pushing the Middle East ever closer to the outbreak of a major international conflict at an already tumultuous time

https://theconversation.com/why-lebanon-faces-another-crisis-and-what-saudi-arabia-stands-to-lose-87287

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Lebanon's Aoun's upbeat on Hariri's comments

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Monday he was pleased by Saad al-Hariri’s comment that he would return to Lebanon soon to discuss his resignation as prime minister, presidential palace sources said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics/lebanons-aouns-upbeat-on-hariris-comments-idUSKBN1DD12D

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Sources tell me #Saudi MBS accused @saadhariri of striking a secret deal with Hezbollah leader without telling them. The deal is about #Syria. #Hariri was to visit #Iran then Damascus next year. Info leaked to #Saudi from within his ranks.

https://twitter.com/AliAlAhmed_en/status/930067895140446208

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Lebanese patriarch makes historic Saudi visit amid Hariri crisis

Lebanon’s Christian Maronite Patriarch began a historic visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday under heightened scrutiny amid political tensions that have thrust his country back to the forefront of the conflict between the Sunni kingdom and Shi‘ite rival Iran.

An official visit to Saudi Arabia by such a senior non-Muslim cleric is a rare act of religious openness for the kingdom, which hosts the holiest sites in Islam and bans the practice of other religions but says it wants to open up more to the world.

During his visit, Rai plans to meet Hariri as well as King Salman and his son and heir-apparent, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, both of whom he praised in an address to Lebanese living in Riyadh.

But Rai said his visit, which was planned before the latest crisis, was not political but aimed at boosting religious tolerance and co-existence in a region torn by sectarian conflict.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-lebanon-patriarch/lebanese-patriarch-makes-historic-saudi-visit-amid-hariri-crisis-idUSKBN1DD2F6

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Lebanese cardinal arrives in Saudi Arabia to meet Hariri

The head of Lebanon's Maronite Catholic community arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday in the first public visit by a Lebanese official since Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his sudden resignation nine days ago.

Cardinal Bechara el-Rai's visit, the first ever by a Maronite patriarch to the kingdom according to the cardinal, has taken on special significance since Hariri announced his resignation in a surprise statement broadcast from Riyadh on Nov. 4. The prime minister has not returned to Lebanon since.

El-Rai is expected to meet with Hariri, as well as Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad, during his two-day visit.

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/world/article/Top-Lebanese-priest-to-head-to-Saudi-Arabia-amid-12352278.php

and

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Breaking: First Christian leaders openly arrive to #Riyadh which bans Christians from group worship. Only country without a church

https://twitter.com/AliAlAhmed_en/status/930124437940264960 referring to https://twitter.com/spagov/status/930122644975955968 (photos)

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Significant: First ever photo of a man wearing a cross in #Riyadh is published in #Saudi govt press thanks to - love him or hate him @realDonaldTrump

https://twitter.com/AliAlAhmed_en/status/930136247342915584

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Tense and tearful: Lebanese PM's 80-minute interview backfires

When Saad Hariri gave an interview to a TV station he owns from his home in Riyadh on Sunday, the aim was to put to rest the widespread belief that he is being held against his will in the Saudi capital after quitting as Lebanese Prime Minister last week.

But the plan backfired spectacularly. Analysts say viewers appeared to pay less attention to what Hariri said than how he said it, and the uncomfortable interview seemed to reinforce claims that his shock resignation was ordered by the Saudis.

Hariri chose Lebanon's Future TV, a channel he owns, for his first public remarks since he announced he would quit his post eight days before. Paula Yacoubian, one of his highest-profile TV hosts, flew to Riyadh to conduct the interview.

Sunday's exchange ranged from the tense to the emotional to the downright bizarre, and has already become one of the most commented-on television spectacles in the history of Lebanese social media.

"Today, Mr. Prime Minister, I am unable to convince anybody that you aren't a prisoner in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that you're not a hostage, that you're not under house arrest even though we are in your own house," said the characteristically fiery Yacoubian as she faced Hariri -- her boss.

"Even I myself am being accused of being part of this theater," she added, speaking over the Prime Minister as she said it.

It was an 80-minute interview that revealed a pale and somber Hariri who, despite having relinquished his national duties, appeared exhausted.

"I think people who believed (Hariri) was a prisoner will not be reassured that things are fine with Hariri. He seemed to be tense. He seemed to be emotional. He cried so easily," Habib Battah, a media studies instructor at the American University of Beirut and founder of independent outlet BeirutReport.com, told CNN of the interview.

"(Hariri) looked exhausted. If you think about it, he's supposedly not running a country. He's supposedly taking a break and sitting at home. Why is he so tired? Why is he so nervous? Why is he so unhappy?" blogger and long-time Lebanese media expert Claude el Khal told CNN.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/13/middleeast/lebanon-hariri-interview-moments/index.html and shorter http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/hariri-says-free-in-saudi-and-will-return-home-soon-122341

and on this interview also

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Premier set for return to Lebanon

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Sunday that he will return to his country "within days" amid a political crisis that arose when he announced his sudden resignation on Nov. 4 in Saudi Arabia.

In a live interview shown on Future TV, Hariri said he had resigned to protect Lebanon from imminent danger, although he didn't specify who was threatening the country. He said he will return to submit his resignation and seek a settlement with his rivals in the coalition government, the militant group Hezbollah.

Hariri said withdrawing his resignation would be conditional on the Iranian-backed Hezbollah committing to remaining neutral on regional conflicts. Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to neighboring Syria to support the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"If we want to revoke the resignation, we should respect neutrality and withdraw from regional interferences," Hariri said. "We cannot have any more ambiguity around Lebanon's neutrality."

During the interview from Saudi Arabia, which lasted more than an hour, Hariri held back tears as he spoke and repeated several times that he resigned to draw attention to the danger of siding with Iran in regional conflicts.

"We are in the eye of the storm," Hariri said.

He said the unity government he formed a year ago was supposed to stick to an agreement not to interfere in regional affairs but that Hezbollah has not kept up its end of the deal.

http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2017/nov/13/premier-set-for-return-to-lebanon-20171/

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The Mystery Deepens Over Lebanon’s Prime Minister: Hostage or Free?

Hariri’s mysterious disappearance united Lebanon’s ever-squabbling political leaders. The Christian President, Michel Aoun, rejected the resignation unless Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, delivered it in person. In a televised speech, the Shiite leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said that the resignation was “illegal and unconstitutional” because it “was made under coercion.” Politicians from across Lebanon’s eighteen sects expressed suspicions about the implications for Hariri, the country, and the region. On Sunday, Beirut’s annual marathon turned into a kind of liberation rally for Hariri. Thousands of runners and spectators from different sects carried “Waiting for you” signs. Banners declared “Running for you.” Hariri had run in previous marathons.

Even the Trump Administration got involved. On Saturday, during the President’s Asia tour, the White House took time to issue a statement describing Hariri as “a trusted partner” of the United States.

As Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Hariri had come to symbolize compromise between the two sectarian adversaries.

But Hariri’s language was vague, and the interview offered intriguing clues, such as the reporter’s note regarding breaking news of a major earthquake in Iraq—intended to show that it was happening in real time.

The interview did little to clarify the mystery.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/surprise-resignation-of-lebanon-prime-minister-saad-hariri-saudi-arabia-tv-interview

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Hariri's Remarks on Possibly Reconsidering Resignation are 'Positive': Lebanon President

President Michel Aoun on Monday said that Prime Minister Saad Hariri's remarks on the possibility of reconsidering his own resignation was a “positive” indicator.

The President was also quoted as saying that the “PM's remarks show that the political settlement that supports the coalition government still stands.”

https://www.albawaba.com/news/hariris-remarks-possibly-reconsidering-resignation-are-positive-lebanon-president-1047292

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With Lebanon situation not to Saudi Arabia’s liking, Riyadh suddenly turns on Hariri

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/11/13/world/politics-diplomacy-world/lebanon-situation-not-saudi-arabias-liking-riyadh-suddenly-turns-hariri/#.Wgnc7mjWyUk

Remark: All the events, overview.

cp3 Libanon in der Krise / Lebanon in crisis

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#Lebanon's FM spoke in Rome, said "listen, our PM @saadhariri is not Hezbollah. Neither am I. If #Saudi got an issue w Hezbollah, they need to solve it w #Iran not w Lebanon or the Lebanese people".

https://twitter.com/SaadAbedine/status/930809835192336384 referring to https://twitter.com/Gebran_Bassil/status/930806122352607235

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What Can Saudi Arabia Really Do About Hezbollah?

Given the Iranian-backed militant group’s growing tentacles, maybe not much.

The strategy was to inflict pain within Lebanon -- economic, diplomatic and political -- and whittle the tolerance and support for Hezbollah, said Sanam Vakil, adjunct professor of Middle East Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. The playbook was from 2005, when protests drove out the Syrians from Lebanon following Hariri senior’s murder.

“The hope is that there will be some similar momentum and public pressure,” said Vakil. But that has not happened to a group founded in the 1980s and entrenched in Lebanon's political and social fabric. “Nasrallah is a survivor, so the question is what ideas are they cooking up to come out of this stronger,” Vakil said.

Under Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing agreement, Lebanon’s prime minister must be Sunni, the president a Maronite Christian and parliamentary speaker a Shiite.

Peace has largely held since the 1975-1990 civil war, though friction has increased in recent years as more than a million mainly Sunni refugees from Syria poured into the country, Hezbollah championed the Shiites and the Christians sought to protect their interests.

But in terms of directly hurting Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Saudis are limited, said Bilal Saab, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington. The Hariri crisis has been just “a headache for Hezbollah,” he said.

What's more, any direct measures against Lebanon could backfire on Saudi Arabia. Sunnis, Christians and Druze will pay a heavier price than Hezbollah if Gulf countries impose sanctions on Lebanon, said Bishara Abu Rejeily, 40, an IT specialist.

“Hezbollah gets money bags from Iran, so they won’t be affected,” he said on Beirut's Hamra Street. “They want to tighten the noose on us economically so we rise against Hezbollah. It won’t happen.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-15/what-can-saudi-arabia-really-do-about-hezbollah

(A P)

Saudi seems to be demanding that Hizbullah end all support for Houthis in exchange for Hariri. Hizb could give Hariri assurances that it won't militarily intervene in Yemen, but pledge to end political support for Houthis is highly unlikely. Recall Nasrallah’s March 2016 speech: (see text in image)

https://twitter.com/amalsaad_lb/status/930514139721682945

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Lebanon says Saudi sanctions would destabilize region

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Tuesday said Saad al Hariri’s freedom would only be proven once he returned from Saudi Arabia, and that any Saudi sanctions would destabilize the wider region.

“Any (Saudi) measures would not only be targeting Lebanon and its stability, this would be a punishment for the region because any instability in the Lebanon would cause instability in the region,” Bassil said during a visit to Paris.

“The first to be touched would be Syrians in Lebanon,” added Bassil, who was speaking in English.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-lebanon-france/lebanon-says-saudi-sanctions-would-destabilize-region-idUSKBN1DE29I

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Lebanon again dangerously at mercy of Saudi Arabia-Iran rivalry: Nahlah Ayed

Mystery of missing prime minister continues even after interview

If the aim of Hariri's interview was putting his riled-up people at ease, it didn't quite work.

"My impression is that he was speaking under considerable duress, it was quite evident in both his body language and just the general look on his face," said Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, echoing an untold number of Lebanese who took to the internet to say the same.

So even as Hariri insisted he would be home "within days"— thanks to swift domestic and international pressure, according to the country's relieved president — Lebanon finds itself again dangerously at the mercy of the old Saudi Arabia-Iran rivalry, and again facing the prospect of a new conflict.

Watchers suspect the odd circumstances may have been born out of Saudi Arabia's millennial Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his revved up foreign policy, one clearly aimed at actively countering Iran's growing influence, helped in no small part by its successes in Syria.

The result though is only the newest episode in which the eternally divided Lebanon plays an old role it is never really allowed to abandon — that of a hapless battleground to greater powers.

That means despite the precarious political balance that Hariri helped achieve in the past year — and despite the flash of unity Lebanese demonstrated over his disappearance — the old differences could easily be manipulated into bubbling back.

Hariri said repeatedly the only way for tiny Lebanon to maintain stability is to hold onto a policy of neutrality.

In other words, for Hezbollah to stay out of the region's conflicts.

But he restricted his comments to Hezbollah's alleged role in Yemen's conflict.

This opens the door "for backdoor channels" between Iran and Saudi Arabia "to try and calm the situation, because I think any more escalation can basically send the whole region into flames," said Yahya.

"An escalation in Lebanon would not be limited to Lebanon…. Once a conflict starts, it's very hard to control."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/lebanon-saad-hariri-saudi-arabia-1.4400464

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Fury Grows in Lebanon as Saad Hariri Stays Put in Saudi Arabia

The week of silence that followed only fueled rumors that he was forced to resign by his long-time supporters in Riyadh and that he is being held against his will. Lebanese President Michel Aoun told foreign ambassadors Hariri was “kidnapped.”

Fouad Sinora, a member of Hariri’s own political party, and a former Prime Minister himself, said he must return home. “The political party and its board members reaffirm its support for Prime Minister Saad Hariri,” he said. “The party stands by him under any circumstance.”

Few in the Lebanese capital believe Hariri stepped down on his own volition. Most speculate that he’s being prevented from returning to Lebanon, which Saudi officials have denied.

While some celebrated, honking car horns in the streets of Beirut, after Hariri’s Sunday interview and pledge to return, many here remain skeptical that Hariri is a man of free will. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” says Souheil Saade, a shopkeeper in one of Beirut’s Christian districts, of Hariri’s return. Pundits debated Hariri’s body language in the Sunday interview and speculated about a man who appeared briefly in the interview room, holding what seemed to be papers. Some said Hariri looked sad, on the verge of tears. All signs suggest he is under some kind of house arrest, people here say.

“I’m not with him politically at all,” says Saade. “But I love him. He is my Prime Minister.”

Hariri might not have been a wildly popular Prime Minister across Lebanon’s sects and political parties, but calls for his return have cut across party political lines.

http://time.com/5021731/lebanon-saad-hariri-saudi-arabia-beirut/

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Fears for Lebanese economy if Saudis impose Qatar-style blockade

Lebanese politicians and bankers believe Saudi Arabia intends to do to their country what it did to Qatar - corral Arab allies into enforcing an economic blockade unless its demands are met.

Unlike Qatar, the world’s biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas with a population of just 300,000, Lebanon has neither the natural nor financial resources to ride it out, and people there are worried.

Up to 400,000 Lebanese work in the Gulf region, and remittances flowing back into the country, estimated at between $7-8 billion a year, are a vital source of cash to keep the economy afloat and the heavily-indebted government functioning.

“These are serious threats to the Lebanese economy which is already dire. If they cut the transfer of remittances, that will be a disaster,” a senior Lebanese official told Reuters.

Those threats came from Lebanon’s former prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, who resigned on Nov. 4 in a shock broadcast from Riyadh that Lebanese political leaders have ascribed to pressure from the Saudis.

Hariri, an ally of Saudi Arabia, on Sunday warned of possible Arab sanctions and a danger to the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese living in the Gulf.

And he spelled out Saudi conditions for Lebanon to avoid sanctions: Hezbollah, the Iran-backed group that is Lebanon’s main political power and part of the ruling coalition, must stop meddling in regional conflicts, particularly Yemen.

According to a Lebanese source familiar with Saudi thinking, Hariri’s interview “gave an indication of what might be waiting for us if a real compromise is not reached. The playbook is there in Qatar.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics-analysis/fears-for-lebanese-economy-if-saudis-impose-qatar-style-blockade-idUSKBN1DD2IB

cp4 Israel

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Even with the Saudis cheering, war with Hezbollah would spell disaster

Amid upheaval in Lebanon, Nasrallah claims Riyadh is pushing Israel to strike his group, but that wouldn’t serve Jerusalem’s interests

In an op-ed last week, former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro assessed that Saudi Arabia is trying to goad Israel into fighting and weakening the Iran-backed Hezbollah so that Riyadh could replace it with its own proxy.

“It is plausible that the Saudis are trying to create the context for a different means of contesting Iran in Lebanon: an Israeli-Hezbollah war,” Shapiro wrote in Haaretz.

On Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a similar claim, saying in an address that he obtained intelligence that “Saudi Arabia has asked Israel to strike Lebanon” and even offered “tens of billions of dollars” in exchange. Yet Nasrallah assessed that Israel would be unwilling to do so.

Shavit and Zalzberg noted that the rationale behind these allegations is sound: Saudi Arabia and Israel share an enemy in Hezbollah, and the IDF is specially trained to fight the terror group.

“Some in Saudi Arabia would like to see Israel pummel Hezbollah,” Zazlberg said.

Netanyahu is not interested in entering into a major war with Hezbollah

This isn’t because of the Jewish state’s peaceful nature or its compassion toward Lebanese civilians who would be caught in the crossfire. Ultimately, it is due to the fact that a third Lebanon war would be disastrous for Israel, in terms of civilian casualties, the economy and, potentially, Israel’s international standing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is not interested in entering into a major war with Hezbollah,” Zalzberg said.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/even-with-saudis-on-israels-side-war-with-hezbollah-would-spell-disaster/

cp5 Propaganda

(A P)

ANALYSIS: Is Iran’s influence fading in Lebanon and Yemen?

Recent developments across the region are signaling increasing isolation for Tehran. Despite investing for decades, Lebanon and Yemen are literally slipping out of Iran’s hands.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri sent shockwaves across the region by announcing his resignation. The recent missile attack by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen targeting Riyadh crossed a costly red line for Tehran.

In Hariri’s own words, Iran and Hezbollah had literally taken the entire country of Lebanon hostage, making it impossible to carry out his duties.

Evidence also revealed an assassination plot threatening his life. Western and Arab intelligence services unveiled how his entourage was targeted, in a blueprint similar to his father’s assassination.

Three issues related to this development are worth pondering over:
1) Hariri announced his resignation from Riyadh only one day after his meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs advisor of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in Beirut.
2) The United States launched a new Iran policy targeting this regime’s destabilization and terrorism across the region.
3) Hezbollah has come under severe sanctions, including three bills passed by the US House of Representatives on October 25th.
a. H.R. 359 calling on the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization
b. H.R. 3342 sanctioning Hezbollah for using innocent civilians as human shields
c. H.R. 3329, known as HIFPA, targets Hezbollah’s international financial support

In short, Hariri’s resignation changed all calculations for Iran in Lebanon.

Iran and Hezbollah are both sensing the dangers ahead after Hariri’s resignation. “Without a doubt this resignation has raised our concerns and we did not welcome it,” said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nassrallah.

Media in Iran are known to voice the general opinion of its ruling regime. “It appears that Hariri’s resignation is the operational beginning of this strategy in the region, with the ground being paved by the US Congress sanctioning [Iran] and Hezbollah,” according to the semi-official Entekhab daily.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2017/11/13/ANALYSIS-Is-Iran-s-influence-fading-in-Lebanon-and-Yemen-.html

(A P)

Iran and Hizbollah have brought Lebanon to the brink of collapse. Saad Hariri is showing a way back to stability

There is a genuine clamour in Lebanon for change. Mr Hariri and all who oppose Iran's chokehold on Beirut should capitalise on it

Ever since Saad Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister, announced his resignation, Iran has been dispensing a stream of conspiracy theories. Mr Hariri, according to these, is being held against his will in Riyadh. He is the casualty, say Tehran and its proxies, of a nefarious Saudi plot to destabilise Lebanon. It’s strange that none of the conspiracists has had a word to say about the reasons Mr Hariri himself cited as he quit: the credible threat of imminent assassination at the hands of Iran’s militant Lebanese client, Hizbollah.

Since his resignation, Mr Hariri has travelled to the UAE, where he held talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. In Riyadh, he has had multiple meetings with foreign ambassadors.

https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/editorial/iran-and-hizbollah-have-brought-lebanon-to-the-brink-of-collapse-saad-hariri-is-showing-a-way-back-to-stability-1.675433

My comment: Propaganda by Emirati media. Hariri’s “freedom” as told here seems to have little to do with reality (look at cp2; Lebanon Mosaic 1, cp2).

(A P)

Hariri says Iran to blame for Lebanon crisis, promises to return to his country 'very soon'

Hezbollah’s domination of Lebanon at the behest of Iran is the cause of the country’s political crisis and his own resignation as prime minister, Saad Hariri said in a dramatic and emotional TV interview on Sunday night.
“I am not against Hezbollah as a political party but it should not be the cause of the destruction of Lebanon,” Hariri said.
He also said he would return to Lebanon “very soon,” and may even withdraw his resignation if Hezbollah respected Lebanon’s policy of staying out of regional conflicts.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1192436/middle-east

My comment: As Saudi media tell it.

(A P)

Saudi envoy ridicules Hariri kidnap rumors

Saudi Arabian Charge d’Affaires in Lebanon Walid al-Bukhari Monday tweeted a picture ridiculing widespread rumors that Prime Minister Saad Hariri is being held in Saudi Arabia.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2017/Nov-13/426215-saudi-charge-daffaires-ridicules-hariri-kidnap-rumors.ashx

cp6 Mehr / More

(A P)

POSTERS OF SAUDI CROWN PRINCE ARE BEING TORCHED IN LEBANON AMID GROWING PROXY WAR BETWEEN IRAN AND THE GULF KINGDOM

As tensions continue to rise between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon over what is being dubbed a new proxy war between the Gulf Kingdom and Shia rival Iran, authorities are having to remove banners of Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Why? They are being burned.

Amid the crisis, a video emerged over the weekend of a poster of the 32-year-old prince being burned in the northern city of Tripoli. The Lebanese government pledged to find whoever was responsible.

http://www.newsweek.com/lebanon-posters-saudi-crown-prince-are-being-burnt-down-709594

(A P)

EU says Hariri must return to Lebanon, warns against Saudi interference

The European Union on Monday urged Saad al-Hariri to return to Lebanon, calling on all political forces inside the country to focus on the domestic agenda and warning Saudi Arabia against meddling.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics-france/eu-says-hariri-must-return-to-lebanon-warns-against-saudi-interference-idUSKBN1DD0YS

(A P)

Iran Says It Does Not Interfere in Lebanese State Affairs: TV

Iran said on Monday that it does not interfere in Lebanon and that comments on Sunday by Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanese prime minister nine days ago, gave hope he would soon return to his country, state TV reported.

The resignation of the Saudi-allied Hariri's and its aftermath have put Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Shi'ite-led Iran and its regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-11-13/iran-says-does-not-interfere-in-lebanese-state-affairs-tv

(* B P)

Lebanon's Hariri shackled by bigger outside forces

Nothing so encapsulated the political shackles in which Saad al-Hariri has operated as Lebanon’s prime minister as the way he resigned in a televised statement made from Saudi Arabia.

Every major decision by the unlikely politician was determined by factors beyond his control.

The dependence of their leaders on powerful external patrons is nothing new in Lebanon, where regional powers from Saudi Arabia to Iran have long tussled for geopolitical advantage.

But the case of Hariri, who many Lebanese think was summoned to the Saudi capital, coerced into resigning and put under house arrest - which he has denied - underscores an instance of external pressure extreme even by Lebanon’s high standards.

As Riyadh’s ally at a time of its enemies’ ascendancy, Hariri was already playing Lebanon’s intricate political game from a position of weakness.

A year ago, after spending years abroad, he agreed to join a national unity government with President Michel Aoun, a former rival and Hezbollah ally, that included Hezbollah itself.

It was a compromise he said was necessary to end Lebanon’s sectarian-tinged political paralysis and one that was personally difficult, as Hariri accuses Hezbollah of the assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri.

He seemed committed to that compromise until the moment he flew to Riyadh on Nov. 3, telling officials of discussions planned for his return the following Monday.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics-hariri/lebanons-hariri-shackled-by-bigger-outside-forces-idUSKBN1DD24P

(A)

Kidnapped Saudi released in Lebanon: Lebanese news agency

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics-kidnap/kidnapped-saudi-released-in-lebanon-lebanese-news-agency-idUSKBN1DF2C6

More reports on Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Middle East:

https://www.freitag.de/autoren/dklose/jemenkrieg-mosaik-357-yemen-war-mosaic-357

Earlier reporting:

https://www.freitag.de/autoren/dklose/libanon-mosaik-lebanon-mosaic-1

https://www.freitag.de/autoren/dklose/jemenkrieg-mosaik-355-yemen-war-mosaic-355 cp12b

More reports on Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Middle East:

https://www.freitag.de/autoren/dklose/jemenkrieg-mosaik-357-yemen-war-mosaic-357

22:45 15.11.2017
Dieser Beitrag gibt die Meinung des Autors wieder, nicht notwendigerweise die der Redaktion des Freitag.
Geschrieben von

Dietrich Klose

Vielfältig interessiert am aktuellen Geschehen, zur Zeit besonders: Ukraine, Russland, Jemen, Rolle der USA, Neoliberalismus, Ausbeutung der 3. Welt
Schreiber 0 Leser 22
Dietrich Klose

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