Libanon-Mosaik / Lebanon Mosaic 7

Libanon in den Medien: Kompromiss der Regierungsparteien: Libanon mischt sich nicht im Ausland ein. Hariri zieht Rücktritt endgültig zurück. Neue saudische Drohungen / Compromise, Hariri stays
Bei diesem Beitrag handelt es sich um ein Blog aus der Freitag-Community

Im Libanon haben sich die Regierungsparteien auf einen Kompromiss einigen können, wonach sich der Libanon und libanesische Organisationen aus Verwicklungen im Ausland heraushalten. Das zielte vor allem auf die Hisbollah. Auf dieser Grundlage zog Ministerpräsident Hariri seinen Rücktritt endgültig zurück. Saudi Arabien stieß aber bereits neue Drohungen gegen den Libanon aus, diesmal gegen die libanesischen Banken.

In Lebanon, the governing parties agreed to a compromise. Lebanon and Lebanese organisations shall kepp out of interference abroad. This specially aims at Hezbollah. Thus, Prime Minister Hariri now officially withdrew his resignation. But, there are already new Saudi threats against Lebanon – this time against the country’s banks.

Schwerpunkte / Key aspects

Klassifizierung / Classification

cp1 Weitere Verwicklungen / Further implication

cp2 Ministerpräsident Hariri / Prime Minister Hariri

cp3 Libanon in der Krise / Lebanon in crisis

cp4 Propaganda

cp5 Mehr / More

Klassifizierung / Classification

***

**

*

(Kein Stern / No star)

A = Aktuell / Current news

B = Hintergrund / Background

cp1 Weitere Verwicklungen / Further implication

(** B)

A month after Hariri saga, Saudi's Lebanon gambit backfires

Not only did Hariri rescind his resignation on Tuesday, but Riyadh’s power play paradoxically led divided Lebanese factions to come together in order to avoid a political breakdown.

The Lebanese cabinet issued a joint statement on Tuesday to reaffirm their commitment to staying out of regional conflicts and apparently put an end to the month-long Hariri saga.

“When Hariri travelled to Saudi Arabia (in early November), he got a huge shock,” the source said.

“He thought he was going to discuss economic projects. He found himself faced with a list of economic sanctions brandished by the Saudis against Lebanon.”

Riyadh threatened to expel 160 000 Lebanese nationals working in the Gulf and force regional businessmen to withdraw their investments from Lebanon.

“This would have been catastrophic for the country. Hariri had his back up against the wall,” the source said.

The 47-year-old premier wrote his own resignation announcement, crafting it in a way he thought would appease the Saudis.

“He was not a prisoner in the literal sense but the Saudis told him, ‘if you go back to Lebanon, we’ll think of you as Hezbollah, and your government as an enemy,’” the source told AFP.

“They said: ‘We will punish Lebanon like Qatar,’” he said, referring to Saudi’s months-long land, sea, and air blockade on Qatar.

Karim Bitar of the Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Affairs said Riyadh’s plan spectacularly backfired.

“The Saudis wanted to send a powerful message demonstrating their determination to push back on Iran’s foray into the Levant,” said Bitar.

“But it produced a real boomerang effect.”

“As fictitious, provisional and fragile as it is, this forced rapprochement between the two Lebanese camps is necessary and welcome, since security and economic risks are real,” Bitar said.

He expected Riyadh would continue demanding Hezbollah withdraw its forces from Yemen.

“The Saudis want more than just cosmetic concessions,” Bitar warned.

“The Saudis have not said their last word yet. They’re still determined to clip Iran’s wings in the region.”

Last week, Saudi foreign minister Adel Jubeir warned “there will not be peace” in Lebanon as long as Hezbollah stayed armed.

Riyadh, however, has also struggled to backpedal on its faux pas after Hariri’s resignation sparked French and US interventions on his behalf.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman “realised he had gone too far… and that the operation resulted in Hariri regaining popularity,” a French diplomatic source told AFP.

Another Western source told AFP that Riyadh remained “very reluctant” to back Hariri, now once again leading a cabinet that includes Hezbollah.

“They thought he would be able to counter Hezbollah. The opposite happened,” the source said.

Questions remain over what Saudi’s next move in Lebanon will be.

“Even Riyadh’s closest allies in Lebanon fear Saudi’s intransigence will cost the Lebanese economy dearly, without weakening Hezbollah much,” said Bitar – by Rana Moussaoui

https://mg.co.za/article/2017-12-06-a-month-after-hariri-saga-saudis-lebanon-gambit-backfires

(** B)

Saudi plan to hit Lebanon with sanctions

Saudi is trying to exert pressure on Lebanon by accusing its banks of being run by Iran.

At the third Rome MED – Mediterranean Dialogues, which ran between 30 November and 2 December, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said: “It is easy to perceive Iran’s negative influence everywhere in the whole region.”

The Lebanese banking sector has been quick to respond to the accusations with former head of the Association of Lebanon Banks, François Bassil, stating that “local banks are committed to international laws, especially those related to money laundering and financing terrorism”. He stressed that “random accusations can never be accepted.”

This is not the first time Saudi Arabia has threatened Lebanon economically. Political sources revealed that a few days ago the Kingdom intended to impose sanctions on Beirut, as it did on Qatar.

Lebanese economists stressed that the withdrawal of Gulf deposits will not be as harmful for the Lebanese banking sector as the Kingdom thinks it will be, especially since the total amount of Gulf money in Lebanese banks does not exceed 2.5 per cent of the total sums deposited, about $160 billion.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171205-saudi-plan-to-hit-lebanon-with-sanctions/

My comment: New Saudi pressure on Lebanon, now in a new field: now it’s not Hezbollah, it’s the banks. And gain, Iran is the pretense.

(* B)

Libanons Premier in der Bredouille: "Die gesamte Familie Hariri ist Eigentum der Saudis"

Der rätselhafte Rücktritt vom noch rätselhafteren Rücktritt des libanesischen Premiers Saad Hariri bewegt weiter die Gemüter. Die Konfrontation zwischen Riad und Teheran droht sich nach Bürgerkriegen in Syrien und im Jemen auch in den Libanon fortzupflanzen.

Was ist los mit dem levantinischen Staatsmann Saad Hariri? Richard Stone (Name geändert, der Redaktion bekannt), ein Ex-Bodyguard der Hariri-Familie, der sich für RT Deutsch in Beirut umhörte, sagte: "Die Situation ist sehr unklar. Keiner kann etwas Konkretes sagen. Aber Saad steht klar unter der Fuchtel Saudi-Arabiens." Adnan Bilal (Name geändert, der Redaktion bekannt), Ex-Angestellter von Saudi Oger, des wichtigsten Unternehmens der Hariri-Familie, will wissen, dass "gerade eine Menge schmutziger Dinge passieren". Näher erläutern wollte er das nicht, wies aber in Richtung Saudi-Arabien. Nicholas Keith (Name geändert, der Redaktion bekannt), ebenfalls Ex-Bodyguard der Familie, ein Brite, zeigt sich indes gegenüber RT Deutsch völlig unbeeindruckt von Saad Hariris "Sinneswandel":

Ich kenne seinen Vater. Die ganze Familie ist doch Eigentum des Hauses Al Saud.

Bereits Rafik Hariri war Riads Mann in Beirut

Armut und Korruption prägten die Ära Rafik Hariris

Im Jahre 1989 lud Rafik Hariri schließlich die Konfliktparteien nach Taif in Saudi-Arabien ein. Er konnte sie zu einem Friedensabkommen mobilisieren, das ein Ende des libanesischen Bürgerkrieges einläutete. "Im Anschluss an diese Vereinbarung", so erklärte Patrick W. Lang dem Autor, "stimmten die Saudis, die USA und Syrien der Idee zu, Rafik Hariri als Premierminister eines wiedervereinigten Libanon einzusetzen, obwohl dieser kein Mitglied des libanesischen Parlaments war und seine libanesische Staatsangehörigkeit erst wiederhergestellt werden musste, um für ihn eine Aura der Legalität zu kreieren". Als er im Amt war, wurde er zum Instrument einer gemeinsamen US-saudischen Politik in der Levante mit der nicht beneidenswerten Aufgabe, auch den syrischen Präsidenten Hafiz al-Assad zu besänftigen.

Saad Hariri – Bauchlandung für den Statthalter in zweiter Generation

Ein vom Westen gesteuertes Sondertribunal für den Libanon müht sich seit Jahren unter Zuhilfenahme sich stets verändernder, verschwörungstheoretischer Skripte, die regelmäßig bar harter Beweise sind, Verantwortliche in der syrischen und libanesischen Regierung, zuletzt Mitglieder der schiitischen Hisbollah, der Mordtat an Rafik Hariri zu überführen.

Ziel der jüngsten Scharade: Aufruhr im Libanon organisieren

Das Ziel hinter der Krise, die durch den Rücktritt des libanesischen Premierministers Saad Hariri am 4. November 2017 im saudi-arabischen Riad ausgelöst wurde, war die "Sabotage des Libanon und das Anheizen von Aufruhr" im Lande, erklärte der Beiruter Parlamentsabgeordnete Hassan Fadlallah, ein Schiit, am 26. November 2017. "Die große Mehrheit hat den Verschwörern gesagt, dass sie keinen Platz im Libanon und auch keinen verlängerten Arm hier haben, um dieses Land erneut zu ruinieren. Die Ära, in der der israelische Feind, einige arabische Staaten oder einige Weltmächte den Libanon manipulieren würden, ist beendet", so der Abgeordnete, denn "der politische und diplomatische Widerstand - angeführt von Seiner Exzellenz Präsident Michel Aoun und unterstützt vom Parlamentssprecher Nabih Berri sowie einer nationalen Front, die aus wichtigen politischen Kräften besteht - hat es geschafft, den politischen Willen und die politische Entscheidung im Libanon zu befreien".

Doch was bleibt? Kronprinz MBS, der Anfang November 2017 massiv Druck auf den saudisch-libanesischen Doppelstaatler Hariri sowie die in Riad und Jeddah lebende Familie ausgeübt hatte mit dem Ziel, dessen wichtigsten Koalitionspartner in Beirut, die schiitische Hisbollah, in die Knie zu zwingen, scheint vorerst in seiner geopolitischen Cholerik in Richtung Libanon eingedämmt. Aber krachend gescheitert ist vor allem Saad Hariri, der nie den Grad der hochmeisterlichen Steuerbarkeit durch Bestechung mit Dollarmillionen zur Erzielung politischer Ziele erreichen konnte, wie sein Vater ihn erfolgreich exekutierte und sich so einen Hofstaat an Speichel leckenden und Ja sagenden Politikern, Militärs, Geschäftsleuten schuf.

Iran hat im Verbund mit Syrien, Russland, der Hisbollah den IS geschlagen; Teheran versucht nun, sich in den vom IS befreiten Gebieten festzusetzen; sogar von permanenten Militärbasen in Syrien ist die Rede. Saudi-Arabien möchte das mit aller Macht verhindern, trägt den ausufernden Konflikt mit dem Iran um die regionale Vormachtstellung nun rücksichtslos in Drittländer - darunter eben auch den Libanon –von Jürgen Cain Külbel

https://deutsch.rt.com/meinung/61599-libanons-premier-in-bredouille-gesamte-familie-hariri-eigentum-saudis/

(* B)

The Strange Case of Lebanon, France, and a Prime Minister's Unresignation

The Saad Hariri saga is key to understanding Emmanuel Macron’s foreign-policy vision.

Macron's decision to insert himself into this crisis surprised many. France, after all, is no longer the great power of the region, as it once was. But his motivations for doing so were rooted in a shared history, one based on mutual economic and strategic interests. Lebanon was a French protectorate from 1920 to 1944 and retains strong economic, cultural, and political ties with its former colonial power.

For Hariri, Macron’s backing gives his weakened government a lifeline. Burdened by an widening public deficit, an unprecedented influx of refugees into the country, and the Syrian civil war at its border, Lebanon’s economy has worried analysts and elicited comparisons to that of Greece in 2009, at the verge of the eurozone crisis. In September, after Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s visit to Paris, Macron pledged to organize two international conferences, one in support of the Lebanese army and the other for potential investors. He has also maintained France’s pledge (made by his predecessor, François Hollande) of €100 million to help strengthen the Lebanese military over three years. Macron’s support, in short, helps buy Hariri legitimacy, both in Lebanon and in the international arena, at a time when his country has become a battleground in the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

What Macron gets out of supporting Hariri is perhaps less obvious, but crucial to understanding his policy towards the Middle East and North Africa region.Hakim El Karoui, an expert on Africa at the Paris-based Montaigne Institute, argued in a recent paper that France should reclaim its historical role as a “stabilizing force” in the Middle East, including through mediating regional conflicts, as it has in the past – by Annabelle Timsit

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/12/macron-hariri-france-iran-saudi-arabia/547391/

and

(** B)

ANALYSIS: How the US helped to defuse Saudi Arabia's dangerous gambit with Lebanon

The recent bizarre episode of Lebanon's prime minister resigning while in Saudi Arabia and on Saudi TV sparked confusion around the world. But few may have realized how momentous and potentially dangerous the incident actually was.

It turned out to be an impulsive power play by one of the Trump administration's most important allies in the Middle East. And it might have brought the region dangerously close to war had it not been for deft intervention by the United States and France.

At a time when the U.S. seems to be in retreat from the world stage, with many vacant positions in American embassies in crucial countries - including Saudi Arabia - and big reductions in State Department staff, this episode brought into sharp focus the U.S.'s still-essential role as an international power broker. The diplomatic response to the incident also marked France's return to the international stage.

"U.S. diplomats and decision-makers played the major role in pushing back against Saudi Arabia's impulsive move and identifying the pathway to defuse this crisis," said Randa Slim, director of conflict resolution at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.

The Saudi crown prince's gambit showed his determination to counter Iran, said Slim of the Middle East Institute.

"One principal plank in [his] foreign policy is that Saudi Arabia will deploy all resources necessary to contest Iranian influence in the region," Slim said.

France steps up

US deals death blow to Saudi plan

On Nov. 10, Thamer al Sabhan, the Saudi minister for Gulf affairs, who also oversaw policy toward Lebanon, met with David Satterfield, the top U.S. official on the Middle East at the State Department. It was a rocky meeting, in which Satterfield made it clear that the U.S. did not support the Saudi handling of Hariri.

While the U.S. administration agrees with the Saudi leadership on the need to more robustly confront Iran and Hezbollah, it advocates a more calibrated approach in Lebanon, mindful that a disintegration of the state there would complicate American efforts to both resolve the Syrian crisis and continue stabilizing Iraq.

Sabhan received the same message from the U.S. National Security Council

Later that afternoon, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reaffirmed support for Hariri as prime minister of Lebanon, and in an apparent reference to both Saudi and Iranian interference in Lebanon, cautioned against, "using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts." He also encouraged Hariri to return to Lebanon and officially step down, discrediting assassination-plot fears that Hariri had mentioned in his resignation speech.

The next day, the White House joined the chorus of support for Hariri when it put out a statement referring to him as a "trusted partner."

"The U.S. policy remains to push back against Iran and its proxies," says Itani of the Atlantic Council, "but since doing it in Iraq and Syria, where it matters most, comes at the highest cost, it is doing it by supporting the Saudi war effort in Yemen, by imposing calibrated financial sanctions against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and by supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces.”

With such open U.S. support for Hariri, the Saudi leadership realized its initial plan wouldn’t succeed.

France and art of compromise

Negotiating a regional compromise

Many in Lebanon have noted the irony of Hariri’s need for French assistance to return to Lebanon on the eve of the country's 74th anniversary of independence from France. Yet securing his return was not the thorniest part. Reaching a regional agreement that would shield Lebanon from the larger conflict is an uphill battle.

Though Hariri has called the role Macron played in the crisis "historic," the crisis is not over yet. The deal still being worked out for Lebanon depends on precarious agreements, vulnerable to Saudi-Iranian tensions that, despite the efforts of French mediation, continue unabated – by Conor Finnegan

http://abcnews.go.com/International/analysis-us-showed-crucial-international-role-defusing-saudi/story?id=51549715

(unrated B P)

Saudis Get Reality Check After Lebanon Drama

Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration share the goal of rolling back Iran’s regional clout. But, as the recent drama over Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri shows, they don’t agree on what constitutes an acceptable cost.

While increasingly under the sway of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia, Lebanon remains a critical regional hub and one of the few Middle Eastern nations to have escaped mayhem in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring (subscribers only)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudis-get-reality-check-after-lebanon-drama-1512037800

(* A P)

Lebanon will only survive if Hezbollah disarms: Saudi minister

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Friday that Lebanon had been “hijacked” by Hezbollah and could only flourish if the Iranian-backed group disarmed.

“Lebanon will only survive or prosper if you disarm Hezbollah,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a conference in Italy. “As long as you have an armed militia, you will not have peace in Lebanon.”

Jubeir said the situation in Lebanon was “tragic” and accused Iran of fomenting unrest across the Middle East.

“Since 1979, the Iranians have literally got away with murder in our region, and this has to stop,” he said.

Hezbollah denies fighting in Yemen, sending weapons to the Houthis, or firing rockets at Saudi Arabia from Yemeni territory. Jubeir rejected this and said his country would not back down in the conflict.

“The Houthis cannot be allowed to take over a country,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-lebanon/lebanon-will-only-survive-if-hezbollah-disarms-saudi-minister-idUSKBN1DV5QC

My comment: While the Lebanese parties are going to talk and to negotiate, the Saudis seem to make clear that they will stay holding their threat and their grip on the country. This is a clear signal to Prime Minister Hariri and to the other actors in Lebanon. Put simply: A large country pummeling a small one. – The Hezbollah-Yemen connection is a Saudi propaganda plot, nothing more.

(unrated)

Saudis Get Reality Check After Lebanon Drama

Riyadh and Washington want to curb Iran’s clout, but the U.S. is wary of another Lebanese civil war

Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration share the goal of rolling back Iran’s regional clout. But, as the recent drama over Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri shows, they don’t agree on what constitutes an acceptable cost.

While increasingly under the sway of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia, Lebanon remains a critical regional hub and one of the few Middle Eastern nations to have escaped mayhem in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring (subscribers only)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudis-get-reality-check-after-lebanon-drama-1512037800

(B)

Saudi seeking to turn Lebanon into a crisis zone

A Turkish political analyst said that by forcing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to resign, Saudi Arabia sought to turn Lebanon into a crisis zone in the West Asia region.

"Riyadh wanted to repeat the scenario that was played in Yemen in 2015 this time in Lebanon," Alptekin Dursunoglu said.

"However, they were faced with even more disgrace this time than the crisis in Yemen,” he said.

The analyst said the timing and place of resignation and the way Hariri announced it show that the Lebanese premier was only playing a role dictated to him by the Saudis.

He said that by doing this, the Saudis sought to convey the message that they are the ones who decide who should be the Sunni prime minister in Lebanon.

They wanted to prove that despite the defeats of Saudi-backed armed groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon from Iran, Hezbollah and their allies, Riyadh is not going to give up, he added.

http://en.abna24.com/news/middle-east/saudi-seeking-to-turn-lebanon-into-a-crisis-zone_869957.html

(B)

The Coming War on Lebanon: Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Prepare for a Long-Planned Middle East War

Washington’s plan to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ultimately failed. Now Lebanon seems to be in the cross-hairs with tensions between Israel and Hezbollah on the same level that led to the 2006 Lebanon war.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have one main objective at the moment and that is to destabilize Lebanon and attempt to defeat Hezbollah before they prepare for another offensive in Syria to remove Assad from power. Before they declare an all-out war on Iran, they must neutralize their allies, Hezbollah and Syria which is by far an extremely difficult task to accomplish.

The Israeli government knows that it cannot defeat Hezbollah without sacrificing both its military and civilian populations. Israel needs the U.S. military for added support if their objective is to somewhat succeed. Israel and the U.S. can continue its support of ISIS and other terrorist groups to create a new civil war in Lebanon through false-flag terror operations which in a strategic sense, can lead to an internal civil war. Can Hezbollah and the Lebanese military prevent terrorist groups from entering its territory? So far they have been successful in defeating ISIS on the Lebanon-Syria border, and will most likely be successful in preventing a new U.S.-supported terrorist haven in Lebanon. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri who originally resigned from his post while visiting the Saudi Kingdom, then suspending his resignation is a sign that a political crisis has been set in motion. So what happens next?

The Curse: Lebanon’s Natural Resources and the Greater Israel Project

Lebanon Prepares for Another War

A War That No One Will Win

Israel’s Economy During Wartime

Another War, Another Tragedy

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. want to permanently eliminate the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance and to achieve that goal, Lebanon will have to become another Libya causing more chaos in an already volatile situation – by Timothy Alexander Guzman

https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-coming-war-on-lebanon-israel-saudi-arabia-and-the-u-s-prepare-for-a-long-planned-middle-east-war/5621168 = http://silentcrownews.com/wordpress/?p=5698

My comment: I think this article is not based on the facts of the actual situation but on the author’s prejudices. Well, Saudi Arabia acts without any respect to the risk of pulling Lebanon in pieces. The US, France, even Israel are not interested in this.

cp2 Ministerpräsident Hariri / Prime Minister Hariri

(* A )

Hariri widerruft seinen Rücktritt

Der libanesische Ministerpräsident Saad Hariri hat seine vor einem Monat ausgesprochene Rücktrittserklärung widerrufen. Hariri kündigte am Dienstag nach einer Kabinettssitzung an, an der Spitze der Regierung bleiben zu wollen.

Frankreich kündigte derweil an, am Freitag in Paris ein Treffen zum Libanon zu organisieren. Hariri werde dort mit US-Aussenminister Rex Tillerson und anderen Vertretern der internationalen Gemeinschaft zusammenkommen, erklärte das französische Aussenministerium. Es gehe dabei um ein Signal der «Unterstützung für den politischen Prozess» im Libanon.

Der Experte Karim Bitar wertete Hariris Rücktritt vom Rücktritt als schwere Niederlage für Saudi-Arabien. «Die Saudis wollten eine starke Botschaft senden, um ihre Entschlossenheit zu zeigen, den Vorstoss des Iran in der Levante zurückzudrängen», sagte der Experte vom Pariser Politikinstitut IRIS. Dieses Vorgehen sei jedoch komplett nach hinten losgegangen.

Am Dienstag fand nun die erste Kabinettssitzung seit der Rückkehr Hariris statt.

Im Vorfeld dieser Sitzung hatte Hariri die Neutralität der schiitischen Hisbollah zur Bedingung für seinen Verbleib im Amt gemacht. Er wolle keine politische Partei in seiner Regierung, die sich in Konflikte zwischen arabischen Staaten einmische, hatte Hariri vergangene Woche dem französischen Sender CNews gesagt.

https://www.blick.ch/news/ausland/libanon-saad-hariri-widerruft-seinen-ruecktritt-als-libanons-regierungschef-id7688280.html

(* A)

Lebanon's Saad Hariri withdraws resignation

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has officially withdrawn his resignation, a month after saying he was quitting in a shock announcement in Saudi Arabia.

He had already suspended it two weeks ago after returning to Lebanon.

In a statement, he said the situation had been resolved after all members of the government agreed to stay out of the affairs of other Arab states.

"All [the government's] political components decide to dissociate themselves from all conflicts, disputes, wars or the internal affairs of brother Arab countries, in order to preserve Lebanon's economic and political relations," Mr Hariri said in the statement reversing the resignation on Tuesday.

The concession is an apparent reference to the activities of Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support the governments in Syria and Iraq.

The group has denied accusations of also helping rebels in Yemen and militants in Bahrain.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42239355

(* A )

After Weeks Of Will-He-Or-Won't-He, Lebanon's Prime Minister Rescinds Resignation

Just one month after announcing his resignation in Saudi Arabia, jolting the region and leaving onlookers bewildered, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has formally withdrawn that resignation. He declared his official decision after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday near Beirut, at which Lebanon's president and high-ranking ministers endorsed his call for the country to stay out of the affairs of other Arab countries.

"All [the government's] political components decide to dissociate themselves from all conflicts, disputes, wars or the internal affairs of brother Arab countries, in order to preserve Lebanon's economic and political relations," Hariri said in the meeting Tuesday, reading aloud a government statement.

Reaffirming that policy of neutrality — first issued in 2012 — had been a priority for Hariri, whose perplexing statement of resignation last month specifically criticized Hezbollah for interfering in neighboring nations' affairs.

In his comments Tuesday, Hariri stressed that whatever the future may hold for the region, Lebanon must remain aloof.

"Developments in the region suggest a new wave of conflict. ... Perhaps the conflict is nearing the end, and Lebanon cannot be plunged into chaos on the finish line," he said in the Cabinet meeting, according to Reuters.

"If we are rejecting interference by any state in Lebanese affairs, it cannot be that we accept that any Lebanese side interferes in the affairs of Arab states," he added.

"We have to address this issue, and take a decision announcing our disassociation, in words and deeds. We must be convinced that interfering in the internal affairs of the Gulf States has serious repercussions on our situation and our interests."

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/05/568546516/after-weeks-of-will-he-or-wont-he-lebanon-s-prime-minister-rescinds-resignation

(A)

Prime Minister Saad Hariri condemned assaults targeting Saudi Arabia, the latest of which was the launching of a ballistic missile from the Yemeni territory, the Premier's media office said.

Hariri said that such assaults jeopardize the regional security, which could have serious consequences.

http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/238987-hariri-says-missiles-fired-at-sa-jeopardize-regional-security

My comment: Hariri playing the Saudi propaganda tune (why nobody cares for the horrible Saudi air raids at Yemen, which are much more horrible than an intercepted missile?)in a field far away from Lebanon, might be to somewhat comfort the Saudis for enlarging his freedom in his own Lebanese affairs.

(A)

Lebanon's Hariri to Meet Major Powers in Paris

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri will meet ministers from major powers in Paris on Friday to discuss ways of stabilizing his country a month after his shock resignation plunged it into political turmoil, three diplomats said.

The Arab and European diplomats said Hariri would take part in the meeting of the International Lebanon Support Group, a body that includes the five members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

A European diplomat said the aim of the meeting would be "to put pressure on the Saudis and Iranians".

He added that the meeting would be an opportunity to reinforce that the Lebanese must stick by the state policy of "disassociation", or keeping out of regional conflicts.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-12-04/lebanons-hariri-to-meet-major-powers-in-paris

(* B P)

Libanon nach dem Riad-Drama: So profitiert Hariri von seiner "Geiselhaft"

Was genau vorgefallen ist, ist in dem an politische Turbulenzen gewöhnten Land inzwischen egal, meint Dirk Kunze, der die Beiruter Niederlassung der FDP-nahen Naumann-Stiftung leitet. "Jeder weiß, was passiert ist. Hariris Beraterkreis hat schon während der Fernsehübertragung gesagt, seine Körperhaltung sei anders, da stimmt etwas nicht. Das wird aber nicht mehr thematisiert, man schaut schon wieder weiter."

Wichtig sei jetzt für die Zukunftspartei, aus den Ereignissen Kapital zu schlagen. Hariri gilt seit seiner Rückkehr als gestärkt. "Hariris Rücktritt, seine Folgen und die Ereignisse im Umfeld dieser Entscheidung haben die Saudis falsch eingeschätzt. Wie man Hariri da vorgeführt hat, hat bewirkt, dass sich mehr Menschen hinter ihn gestellt haben." Nun wollten sie zeigen, dass er weiterhin der Führer der Sunniten im Libanon sei. "Die Botschaft an die Saudis ist jetzt: Ihr habt euch den Falschen ausgesucht", meint Dirk Kunze.

Selbst konkurrierende Parteien hätten sich während der Krise freundlich bis besorgt zu Hariri geäußert, hat Bente Scheller beobachtet, die die Nahost-Niederlassung der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Beirut leitet. "Er wurde vorher hier nie so richtig ernstgenommen. Man könnte ja annehmen, dadurch, dass Saudi-Arabien ihn dabehalten hat, wäre genau dieser Eindruck noch verstärkt worden. Aber ganz im Gegenteil", sagt Scheller.

Die Nahost-Expertin sieht insgesamt ein Zusammenrücken im Libanon, aber auch große Furcht, dass die regionalen Spannungen das Land nicht so schnell wieder loslassen werden. "Dieser Zwischenfall hat noch einmal ganz klar gezeigt, dass Kräfte der Region hier politisch intervenieren und mit Drohungen operieren können", sagt die Politikwissenschaftlerin Scheller. "Die Spannungen zwischen Saudi-Arabien und Iran sind da und sie sind immer größer geworden. Und weil der Libanon sowohl für Iran als auch für Saudi-Arabien interessant und relevant ist, ist auch zu erwarten, dass sich das hier noch stärker niederschlagen wird. Die Menschen hier haben nicht vor ihren Landsleuten Angst, sondern vor externer Einmischung."

Der Premier, der bisher die Strategie verfolgt hat, die Hisbollah über politische Zugeständnisse zu zähmen, habe nun neue Möglichkeiten in den ansonsten kaum veränderten Kräfteverhältnissen – von Nora Schareika

https://www.n-tv.de/politik/So-profitiert-Hariri-von-seiner-Geiselhaft-article20160067.html

cp3 Libanon in der Krise / Lebanon in crisis

(* A)

Hariri zeigt Präsenz im Amt

Der Premierminister, der im November von Saudi-Arabien aus in einer Fernsehansprache seinen Rücktritt verkündet hatte, hält in Beirut die erste Kabinettssitzung seit seiner Rückkehr ab.

Libanons Premierminister Saad al-Hariri hat am Dienstag in Beirut endgültig seinen Rücktritt zurückgezogen. Damit beendete er die Regierungskrise, die am 4. November mit seinem überraschenden Rücktritt begonnen hatte - diesen hatte er per Fernsehansprache von Saudi-Arabien aus verkündet. Fraglich ist allerdings, ob damit die tiefer liegenden Konflikte gelöst sind. Nach der ersten Kabinettssitzung seit seiner Rückkehr nach Beirut Ende November sagte Hariri, alle "politischen Komponenten der Regierung sind übereingekommen, sich aus allen Konflikten, Kriegen und den inneren Angelegenheiten arabischer Länder herauszuhalten".

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/libanon-hariri-zeigt-praesenz-im-amt-1.3779317

(* A )
Libanons Premier Hariri nimmt seinen Rücktritt zurück

Die Regierungskoalition bekräftigt ihre Linie, sich aus "internen Konflikten arabischer Staaten" herauszuhalten

Der libanesische Ministerpräsident Saad Hariri hat seinen Rücktritt, der sein Land in eine politische Krise gestürzt hatte, offiziell zurückgenommen. "Die Regierung hat ihrem Vorsitzenden dafür gedankt, dass er seinen Rücktritt zurückzieht", sagte Hariri am Dienstag nach seiner ersten Kabinettssitzung seit mehr als einem Monat.

Die Koalitionspartner hätten seiner Forderung zugestimmt, dass der Libanon sich aus regionalen Konflikten heraushalten solle. Das zielt vor allem auf die libanesische Schiitenmiliz Hisbollah, die in Syrien an der Seite von Präsident Bashar al-Assad kämpft.

Am Freitag wird Hariri in Paris zu einem Treffen mit internationalen Unterstützern erwartet, teilte das französische Außenministerium auf Anfrage mit. An der Begegnung werde auch US-Außenminister Rex Tillerson teilnehmen, der gerade in Europa weilt. Frankreich unterhält als frühere Mandatsmacht besonders enge Beziehungen zum Libanon.

https://www.derstandard.de/story/2000069345066/libanons-premier-hariri-nimmt-seinen-ruecktritt-zurueck

(* A)

Accord made in Lebanon

It is welcome news that Prime Minister Saad Hariri has withdrawn his resignation, which alone promises good tidings for the Lebanese, especially during the festive season.

But more importantly, the resignation was withdrawn after universal agreement among all political stripes in Cabinet on first and foremost consolidating the dissociation policy, respecting other Arab countries, and adhering to U.N. resolutions.

In fact, without much ado, these three issues represent the spirit of the reasons behind the resignation, and Tuesday’s solution has obviously addressed these grievances at the highest level.

The Lebanese people are anxious to see results, buoyed by the fact that it was stressed in very clear words that every party represented in the Cabinet is in complete agreement and has promised implementation, all of which has been blessed by the president and speaker alike.

As for challenges facing Hariri on the political and economic levels, these must be addressed immediately either locally, regionally or internationally, with the understanding that in order to carry the load and be equal to the task, the premier must have the backing of the political institutions. These bodies must, for once, set aside personal ambitions and, if needed, make sacrifices and compromises in order to allow Hariri a fresh slate that hopefully will not just offer hopes and promises, but also efforts to improve people’s lives.

Historically, the political scene in Lebanon has been based on compromises, which more than once were sponsored by foreign powers and in which the Lebanese were given enough rope to hang themselves.

But Tuesday’s settlement is completely made in Lebanon, and we hope the “Lebanon First” approach will fare much better than formulas devised across the border.

https://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Editorial/2017/Dec-06/429044-accord-made-in-lebanon.ashx

(* A)

Lebanon's cabinet to meet Tuesday for first time since political crisis: media office

Lebanon’s cabinet will meet on Tuesday for the first time since the country entered a political crisis a month ago when Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri offered his resignation in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia.

The cabinet’s media office said the session would begin at noon at the presidential palace. The meeting is expected to address Hariri’s resignation which thrust Lebanon back into a regional tussle between Riyadh and its main regional foe, Iran.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-economy/enter-the-petro-venezuela-to-launch-oil-backed-cryptocurrency-idUSKBN1DX0SQ

(*B)

"Demokratie kann nicht exportiert werden"

Der syrisch-katholische Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III. Younan über Krieg und Christen im Nahen Osten

Ignatius Joseph III. Younan ist Patriarch der syrisch-katholischen Kirche, einer mit Rom unierten katholischen Ostkirche. Das Kirchenoberhaupt lebt in Beirut und kennt die verfahrene, schwierige Lage der Staaten im Nahen Osten gut. In einem Interview während seines Besuchs in der Diözese Eichstätt schildert er seine Sicht der fragilen Strukturen und der anhaltenden Probleme in diesem Krisenherd der Welt.

"Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass dem Libanon ein Bürgerkrieg erspart bleiben wird. Wir haben schon einmal einen schrecklichen Bürgerkrieg erlebt. Das will keiner mehr. Der Rücktritt und dann der Rücktritt vom Rücktritt von Ministerpräsident Hariri war Theater. Ich denke, dass der Friede im Libanon trotz der politischen Spannungen Bestand hat. Präsident Michel Aoun ist ein sehr weiser, mutiger Mann. Es wird eine Lösung geben, ohne dass der Libanon zwischen den Sunniten Saudi-Arabiens und den Schiiten des Iran zerrieben wird."

http://www.donaukurier.de/nachrichten/topnews/thema/Ingolstadt-Demokratie-kann-nicht-exportiert-werden;art189178,3613133

(** B)

Saudi-Iran tensions put Lebanon, Hezbollah back in regional spotlight

Hezbollah's reach into the region's conflicts, including those in Iraq and Yemen, deeply split the Lebanese people from the start — just as the organization itself, which has both an armed and a political wing, often has over its 35-year history.

Hezbollah's evolution, from a primarily anti-Israel guerrilla army to a group advising and fighting with forces allied with Iran, has also now put it dead centre in the region's escalating rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

That spotlight earned Hezbollah, which Western countries like Canada and the U.S. already consider a terrorist group, a rebuke and a terrorist organization label from Arab states last week. It also could have cost it its political position at home and looked set to spark yet another conflict in a region currently rife with them.

Instead, it appears Hezbollah's entrenched position in Lebanon, politically and militarily, may have helped avert the worst— at least for now.

The Iran-backed Shia Muslim organization remains Lebanon's strongest group militarily and arguably its most influential politically as part of a coalition government in which its allies form the majority. Its successes alongside Iran in the region's conflicts have also given its position, and by extension Iran's, in Lebanon a major boost.

Still, in a new phase of an old regional conflict, Hezbollah and Iran have been put on notice anew.

Trouble with the Saudis

Hezbollah's strength in Lebanon

The region's latest crisis unfolds at a time when the group's dominant position in Lebanon is as favourable as or better than it used to be in the days when Syria ran Lebanon's affairs.

Considered a terrorist organization by much of the West, Hezbollah remains the only Lebanese group that did not disarm following the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990 — because it was still fighting then against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.

Today, that makes it militarily the strongest group in Lebanon.

"It is very difficult for anyone to force anything on Hezbollah, and Hariri learned that the hard way," said Saad. "He tried to confront Hezbollah. They tried to disarm Hezbollah in 2008 — that's why those clashes occurred. And they learned that … Hezbollah was a dominant military force."

Significantly, unlike just a few years ago, Hezbollah's arms are not up for serious discussion these days — publicly, many now qualify such talk by saying it's a matter that must be tackled regionally.

Role in government

The organization's political arm is driven by pragmatism.

The agreement that holds together the governing coalition was made possible nearly a year ago by Hariri and Hezbollah putting aside fundamental differences — of which there are many — for the sake of forming a government.

Now, they're in talks to try to save that government.

"I'm one of those who believe in dialogue," said Basem Shabb, an MP with Hariri's Future Party.

"In Lebanon, we cannot conduct our affairs without dealing with Hezbollah. It would be folly to think otherwise."

Not everyone likes it.

Sami Nader, a political analyst and director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, says out loud what many Sunnis — and many of Lebanon's Christians — believe.

"The hostage is the whole state of Lebanon and the whole institutions of a sovereign state, who are totally now controlled by one party, who is holding the arms," he said.

Keeping Lebanon neutral

The coalition deal Hezbollah and Hariri struck nearly a year ago also included seeing a Hezbollah ally and preferred choice — Michel Aoun — take over the presidency.

But the deal specifically included a commitment to keep Lebanon neutral in the region's multiplying conflicts.

Given the regional consequences of not doing so — and the threat of economic warfare by Gulf countries, which Lebanon could not survive — Hezbollah is likely to compromise. It is also in its interest to preserve the favourable status quo – by Nahlah Ayed

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/hezbollah-lebanon-1.4430345

(A)

Hariri: Der Libanon ist gegenüber der Hisbollah machtlos

„Nach seinem Anfang des Monats in Saudi-Arabien erklärten, bei seiner Rückkehr in den Libanon jedoch zurückgenommenen Rücktritt hat Ministerpräsident Saad Hariri erklärt, die Hisbollah stelle eine Gefahr für die Region dar, doch könne sein Land ‚nichts gegen sie tun’. Der Daily Star berichtete vergangenen Sonntag, Hariri habe sich in einem Interview mit der saudischen Zeitschrift Al-Rajol dahingehend geäußert.

Der libanesische Ministerpräsident habe zudem den Iran kritisiert, weil er die Instabilität im Libanon befeure. ‚Die Hisbollah kann das Land nicht regieren, ihre Stärke beruht auf den vom Iran finanzierten Waffen.’ Der iranische Präsident Hassan Rohani ‚bestimmt nicht, was wir im Libanon tun wollen’.

http://www.mena-watch.com/hariri-der-libanon-ist-gegenueber-der-hisbollah-machtlos/

(* A)

Hezbollah problem is weapons abroad, not at home: Hariri

Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Thursday that Hezbollah does not use its weapons on Lebanese territory and it was in Lebanon’s interest for them not to be used abroad.

“Hezbollah has a political role. It has weapons, of course, but it does not use them on Lebanese soil. Lebanon's interest is to ensure that these weapons are not used elsewhere. That is where the problem comes from,” a statement from Hariri’s office quoted him as saying in an interview with French daily Paris Match.

Hariri’s comments come despite the fact that Hezbollah fought a ground battle against Jabhat Fatah al-Sham - formerly known as the Nusra Front - on the outskirts of the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal in July. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the battle as an illustration of “the extent of weaponry outside the authority of the state,” in a recent report on the implementation of the cessation of hostilities on Lebanon’s southern border with Israel, known as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.

Hariri also said that the "Syrian Regime ... issued a death sentence against me," in response to a question asking whether threats on his life had disappeared.

Hariri also said that he will continue his role as prime minister, saying that his resignation had been intended as an “electroshock for our country,” to illustrate that “we must not pay for the actions of Hezbollah.”

“I fear that Hezbollah's interference abroad will end up costing Lebanon dearly. I will not accept that a Lebanese political party participates in maneuvers that serve the interests of Iran,” Hariri said.

Hariri also defended the recent appointment of a Lebanese ambassador to Syria, saying it was in an effort to “perpetuate [Syria’s] recognition” of Lebanese independence “regardless of the regime in Damascus,” adding that Syria had long failed to recognize Lebanon as an independent state.

https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2017/Nov-30/428422-hezbollah-problem-is-weapons-abroad-not-at-home-hariri.ashx

(** B)

Saudi Arabia is pulling Lebanon apart — and a sectarian conflict is a very real possibility

The resignation last month of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri at the hands of Saudi Arabia has put Hezbollah, a Shia jihadist group, at the helm of Lebanese politics.

Impoverished Sunnis, many who feel leaderless and have radicalized over the decades as a result, may become pushed into sectarian violence with Shias in the country if tensions with Hezbollah continue to escalate.

In a best-case scenario, Lebanon's political institutions and economy may be decimated by sanctions placed on Hezbollah's government by Saudi Arabia and others.

Since Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri unexpectedly stepped down from office last month reportedly under the orders of his Saudi patrons, Lebanon has found itself caught in the middle of the rivalry between the Saudis and Iran, putting it in a dangerous position that experts say could lead at best to economic and political deterioration, and at worst to another civil war.

A host of actions taken by Saudi Arabia in connection to Hariri's allegedly forced resignation have indicated to many experts that the country is attempting to isolate and weaken Hezbollah directly. While Saudi Arabia has long sought to counter Iran's far-reaching influence in the Middle East, experts say this latest series of events not only places Lebanon at the center of this rivalry, but that it also threatens to undermine Lebanon's political and economic stability — potentially dragging the country into sectarian violence.

The last thing Hezbollah wants is to be seen as the ruling government of Lebanon

Ever since the end of Lebanon's bloody civil war in 1990, Hezbollah has steadily been gaining power in Lebanon, where it is the only militia that did not disband at the end of the war.

In 2008, the US-backed Lebanese government attempted to crack down on the group's political influence and military might in the country, but was handed an embarrassing defeat as Hezbollah secured near total control over the capital Beirut.

Hanin Ghaddar, the Friedman Visiting Fellow at the Washington Institute think tank, said that even though Hezbollah is in control of much of the government in Lebanon, the group has refused to recognize Hariri's resignation because they do not want to be responsible for choosing a new prime minister.

Rabil said Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, is trying his best to soothe things because he knows the situation could lead to dangerous instability in the country.

"Of course it could lead to social unrest, because if you listen to Nasrallah's speeches, he’s calling for calm and tranquility, because he knows this is going to escalate and he's going to have problems," Rabil said. "Already he has problems. You have problems between Shia and Sunni on the individual and neighborhood level. Of course what Saudi Arabia did is going to affect that."

Hariri's resignation could invigorate Lebanese Sunnis to act out against Shias and Hezbollah forces

Although Ghaddar, Rabil, and other experts agree there is no single, organized entity on the ground in Lebanon that could credibly challenge Hezbollah's might, Rabil says that decades of political marginalization have radicalized Sunnis, many of whom feel politically dispossessed under Hezbollah's dominance.

This feeling is exactly what led to clashes in Lebanon between Shia supporters of Syria's Assad and supporters of Syria's mostly Sunni rebels following the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011.

Nibras Kazimi, a blogger and former fellow at the Hudson Institute, says that many analysts have overlooked the possibility that jihadism could fester in Sunni communities in Lebanon, especially impoverished ones in the country's north and in Syrian refugee camps.

Saudi Arabia's actions against Hezbollah may push Lebanon's institutions and economy to their breaking point

Ghaddar says it is likely that Saudi Arabia will wage an economic war against Hezbollah and Lebanon, which on its own would have disastrous consequences.

"It is going to be a slow disintegration of society, the economy, and escalation of sectarian tensions," she said. "This is really bad because as it is, Lebanese institutions are very very fragile. Any small change might actually push the institutions to the brink. This is already very bad."

Lebanon has managed to keep its various groups together through many tense periods, Rabil said, but now that Hezbollah has had virtually all political power in the country thrust upon it, the situation has changed.

"Somehow [Lebanon] was able to manage its stability," he said. "Now this has been lost, this has been shaken." – by Michal Kranz

http://www.businessinsider.de/iran-saudi-arabia-hariri-hezbollah-sunni-shia-civil-war-pulling-lebanon-apart-2017-11?r=US&IR=T

(** B)

Where do Lebanon's Christians stand on Hezbollah?

Lebanon's Christian president, Michel Aoun, called the incident a Saudi act of aggression. "Nothing justifies Hariri's lack of return for 12 days," he said.

"You call it terrorist, we call it resistance," TV host Marcel Ghanem responded on November 23 to his Saudi guest Saoud Al Eid's description of Hezbollah.

But in these expressions of nation-wide solidarity, there is one question that has not really been discussed: Why didn't Lebanese Christians join Saudi Arabia's campaign against Hezbollah, since one would assume they consider the "Islamic resistance" (al-Moqawama al-Islamiyya) an existential threat?

To be sure, some Christian politicians were quick to show loyalty to Saudi Arabia, rather than to President Michel Aoun's position in calling for Hariri's release. But a recent Ipsos poll showed that 81 percent of Christians (and 79 percent of Lebanese people as a whole) considered Aoun to have done a good job handling the crisis. Surprisingly, this included 67 percent of Sunnis, who have generally been hostile to Aoun in the past.

Hezbollah's agreement with Aoun

Hezbollah has employed a winning strategy when it comes to its relations with Lebanese Christians. It needs to be noted before proceeding that "Christians" in Lebanon are not a monolithic entity. I am using the term here to denote elected Christian parties based on the 2009 parliamentary elections.

When Aoun, as head of the largest Christian party, and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, signed the Paper of Understanding in 2006, critics accused Aoun of providing Hezbollah with a "Christian cover".

This was definitely true, especially during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon, and in all major political battles since. However, Hezbollah has also given Aoun and his party an unshakeable commitment when it comes to internal feuds.

To understand the significance of Aoun's election, we need to remember that he has been widely described as Lebanon's first "strong president" since the end of the civil war in 1990.

Another factor that made Christians less hostile to Hezbollah in the past few years was undoubtedly the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

While most Christians would naturally side with the sovereignty of the state and would support the need for Hezbollah to hand over its weapons, there is a general perception that the party has played a role in protecting Lebanon against ISIL, despite attempts by Saudi Arabia and its allies to equate the two as being one and the same manifestation of terrorism.

The Saudi efforts

The Lebanese Forces and Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai have been two important voices within the Christian community talking about the danger of Hezbollah's growing influence.

But as both Hariri and Aoun currently enjoy high ratings in the country, Geagea's pro-Saudi stance and Rai's visit to Riyadh did not manage to create a viable bloc to support the recent Saudi escalation, and calls for Lebanon to "do something" about Hezbollah.

In fact, Rai's visit to Riyadh on November 13 in the midst of the Hariri crisis was not met with widespread internal approval, as it was seen by many as whitewashing Saudi Arabia's treatment of Lebanon - not to mention its treatment of minorities. However, some have justified the visit as necessary to appease tensions.

But there is no doubt that Aoun has won the battle for public opinion during the last three weeks.

Whether he will be able to keep the momentum going in his favour will be determined by his ability to secure a viable settlement that would avert a potential Qatar-like embargo, should Saudi Arabia decide to escalate.

In fact, Aoun now needs to bring Hezbollah "back to Lebanon".

In other words, he needs to deliver a viable agreement with the party concerning its regional involvement and its "armed status" - one that would satisfy its regional and local opponents who rightly see, in its growing influence, a threat to Lebanon's sovereignty and independence.

Attacks on Aoun in Saudi media reflect the growing Saudi resentment towards him. His role in providing a "Christian cover" for Hezbollah, as well as the consensus around his "official position" against Saudi Arabia during the Hariri episode, made it harder for Riyadh to speak of Lebanon as a "Hezbollah government". This seems to have backfired for now, as Aoun and Hariri seem set on solidifying their alliance, much to the detriment of Saudi Arabia's hardline supporters in Lebanon.

The clouds seem to have settled after a stormy three weeks in Beirut. One of the factors that have aided the de-escalation of tensions is that Lebanon is not a simple "Sunni vs Shia" dichotomy, as short-sighted analysis of the country and the region generally slides into.

There is a myriad of other political, social, religious and economic factors at play in Lebanon and each country in the region. The recent events in Lebanon were yet another example of how Christians play an important role in shaping the country's internal and international policies – by Halim Shebaya

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/lebanon-christians-stand-hezbollah-171128102446572.html

(* B)

Saudi Arabia’s Lebanon gamble may pay off

Time will tell, but Saudi Arabia’s gamble to pressure Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed, Lebanese Shiite militia, by forcing Saad Hariri, the country’s prime minister, to resign, may be paying off despite widespread perceptions that the manoeuvre backfired.

Mr. Hariri’s decision has, however, opened the door to backroom negotiations in which Hezbollah, a major Lebanese political force, is finding that it may have to compromise to avoid a political breakdown in Lebanon and secure achievement of its most immediate goals.

Mr. Hariri is believed to be demanding that Hezbollah halt its support to Houthi rebels in Yemen and withdraw from Syria where its fighters supported the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in line with Lebanese government policy not to become involved in conflicts raging elsewhere in the region.

Hezbollah signalled a willingness to compromise by urging Mr. Hariri to withdraw his resignation, calling for calm, advising its supporters not to take to the streets, and announcing that it was withdrawing some of its units from Syria and Iraq, where they supported Shiite militias in their fight against the Islamic State.

Mr. Hariri’s newly found popularity and leverage, despite Saudi Arabia’s zero-sum-game approach to its proxy wars with Iran in Lebanon and elsewhere, may enable him to cut a deal that would allow Hezbollah to focus on its all-important goal of securing Lebanese-Syrian relations at the expense of the Houthis in Yemen.

Hezbollah, Syria and Iran need Lebanon to have normal, if not close ties to an-Al Assad government once the guns fall silent given that international and US sanctions against Syria as well as Mr, Al-Assad and his associates are likely to remain in place. Lebanon has long been Syria’s vehicle to circumvent the sanctions – by James M. Dorsey

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/saudi-arabias-lebanon-gamble-may-pay-off_us_5a1f9b08e4b02edd56c6d6be

My comment: Again: Hezbollah – if ever – just plays a minor role in Yemen, whatever Saudi propaganda tells.

cp4 Propaganda

(A P)

Lebanon — a tale of two occupations

One thing that seems beyond doubt is that the days of double talk are over. It is no longer possible to get away with fake slogans amid dangerous realities in more than one area of the Arab world. As such, wise observers have become aware of what is going on and will not be fooled easily.
Post-1920 political entities, post-1979 political Islam (Sunni and Shiite), the relationship between state and non-state militias and armed groups, and various types of liberation and revolutionary slogans are now all under scrutiny.
A few days ago, my colleague and friend Amir Taheri uncovered an important side of the problems afflicting the region, almost all of which revolve around the Iranian role throughout the Arab world.
I was around in 1982 when what became Hezbollah was created in the political “kitchen” of the Iranian Embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus. The Iranian ambassador then was Ali Akbar Mohtashami, who later became interior minister. Damascus later became Hezbollah’s regional sponsor and nanny.
Taheri was absolutely right to remind those who do not remember, or who were witnesses to that period, that Hezbollah — which claims to embody “resistance” to Israel and the US — was nothing but a sectarian vehicle of Tehran’s mullahs, whose prime role was never to resist Israel but rather to confront Palestinian resistance against Israel.
During the early 1980s, a sizable section of the Shiite population of south Lebanon became critical of, even openly opposed to, Palestinian guerrilla operations launched from the area nicknamed Fatah Land, which the Lebanese government had relinquished to Palestinian resistance organizations. Israel kept retaliating against guerrilla operations across its borders by shelling Shiite villages, with the intention of turning the villagers against the Palestinians.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1202226/columns

cp5 Mehr / More

(B)

Lebanon facing Long ‘Independence’ odds

Many analysts argue that Lebanon simply cannot be independent without and effective colonizer unless its can develop its own civil society, which historically have been identified with reform but largely impotent. A free civil society facilitates alliances between divided communities, to build a real country of free and equal citizens with a government that transcends communitarian loyalties. Including civil society organizations becoming more widespread and popular, because it is a pillar in the struggle against corruption and exploitation and gives more opportunities to a larger part of the population. One nearly universally held view of Lebanon’s population is that the state must have a monopoly over its armed forces and be able to impose the States authority over all parties, including foreign sponsored militia.

There are currently 8000 civil society groups registered with Lebanon’s Ministries, but unfortunately, most are severely stymied by corrupt and sectarian officials who bar many of their reform initiatives. Some of which recently have included women’s rights, garbage collection, water quality, protection for foreign domestic workers, the right to work for Palestinian refugees, and opening Parliament to a modicum of public scrutiny and financial as well as judicial accountably.

A common cliché in Lebanon these days has it that, “Lebanon has never been a real country, is not a real country today, and quite likely will not be in the future.”

Most of Lebanese Sunni, Christians, Druze and the growing body of agnostic or non-religious in the country reportedly believe that Iranian influence, through its militia Hezbollah is the greatest impediment to achieving Lebanon’s independence.

That may well be true but surely Iran’s hegemonic goals in Lebanon are ultimately vulnerable to accumulating resentments, as pointed out recently by Leila Fawaz, Professor of Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

One example she offered is Hezbollah’s minority status in Lebanon, and Iran’s risky overstretch across Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.

Iran’s primary aspiration in to control Lebanon and create a land bridge linking Tehran to Beirut and the Mediterranean which grants Iran full control of a military corridor to Hezbollah, and the region more broadly. As researcher and longtime Lebanese journalist Hanin Ghaddar has pointed out recently:

Lebanese citizens can resist the growing foreign occupation of their country if their “leaders” have the necessary courage to confront foreign occupation. A few times in the past-- in 2013, 2015, and 2016, Lebanese civil society mobilized against a widely viewed corrupt political class that is divided according to its regional and international loyalties which collectively have plundered the country – By Franklin Lamb

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1712/S00030/lebanon-facing-long-independence-odds.htm = https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/05/lebanon-facing-long-independence-odds/

My comment: It is biased to speak just of Iran when dealing with foreign interference in Lebanon. We all know that Saudi Arabia is interfering even more (all that what is happening in the moment), as also did Syria for decades, Israel, the US…

(B)

US weapons pour into Lebanon amid turmoil

The Donald Trump administration is pouring new weapons into Lebanon despite US budgetary uncertainty and political turmoil in Beirut.

Robert Karem, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, informed Congress in October that the Pentagon plans to supply the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with six US-origin MD-530G light attack helicopters. The proposal, which also includes communications equipment such as radios, satellite navigation and transponder beacons, is estimated at $110 million, according to congressional correspondence reviewed by Al-Monitor.

The arms package aims to give Lebanese troops an edge against Islamic State (IS) fighters and other militants massing in the country’s northeastern border region. It is provided through a train-and-equip fund used to build up foreign militaries that has allowed the United States to continue to arm its Middle East partners even as the Trump administration seeks to curtail foreign military support traditionally handled by the State Department.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/12/pentagon-increases-weapons-lebanon.html

(B)

Syrian boy wins Children's Peace Prize for building refugee school in Lebanon

A teenage Syrian refugee won a prestigious international prize on Monday for building a school and providing an education to hundreds of children who fled to Lebanon to escape the conflict.

Mohamad Al Jounde was just 12 years old when he decided to set up a school in the Bekaa Valley refugee camp, enlisting his relatives and volunteers to help construct the building and teach a range of subjects from English and maths to photography.

Three years on, the school boasts more than 200 students, some as young as five, several professional teachers and offers gender equality lessons and literacy classes for adult refugees.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-lebanon-children-education/syrian-boy-wins-childrens-peace-prize-for-building-refugee-school-in-lebanon-idUSKBN1DY1RT = https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/12/04/syrian-boy-wins-childrens-peace-prize-for-building-refugee-school-in-lebanon/23296313/

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HEKS-Kampagne: Die syrischen Flüchtlinge im Libanon brauchen unsere Hilfe!

Über 1,5 Millionen Menschen aus Syrien haben im Libanon Schutz vor dem Krieg gesucht. Tausende von ihnen leben im Flüchtlingscamp Shatila in Beirut in grosser Armut. HEKS unterstützt die lokale Organisation «Najdeh», die prekäre Situation der bedürftigsten Flüchtlingsfamilien zu verbessern – und bewirkt im Kleinen Grosses:

Der Libanon hat von allen Nachbarstaaten Syriens im Verhältnis zur Bevölkerungszahl am meisten Schutzsuchende aufgenommen. Allerdings erhalten sie vom Staat weder eine Unterkunft noch Nahrungsmittel. Und eine Arbeitserlaubnis zu erhalten ist praktisch unmöglich. 70 Prozent der Flüchtlinge im Libanon leben in grosser Armut – wie zum Beispiel im Flüchtlingscamp Shatila.

Ein Leben in Würde ermöglichen

Shatila wurde 1949 für 3000 Palästinenser aufgebaut. Heute leben in Shatila rund 22 000 Menschen – seit Ausbruch des Krieges haben dort tausende palästinensische Flüchtlinge aus Syrien Schutz gesucht. Doch für die Neuankömmlinge gibt es kaum Wohnraum. Sie leben zu überteuerten Mieten in halb fertiggestellten, feuchten Gebäuden, in fensterlosen Abstellräumen oder Treppenhäusern. Zwar erhalten die Flüchtlingsfamilien von der UNO eine monatliche finanzielle Unterstützung – diese reicht aber bei Weitem nicht aus, um überleben zu können.
Angesichts dieser prekären Situation erhalten die bedürftigsten Flüchtlingsfamilien Unterstützung von der lokalen Organisation «Najdeh». Gemeinsam mit HEKS unterstützt «Najdeh» über 1200 Familien mit einem monatlichen, frei verwendbaren Betrag von 50 US-Dollar. Mit dem Geld können die Familien die Miete bezahlen oder Nahrungsmittel kaufen. HEKS hat mit «Najdeh» zudem ein Projekt initiiert, um die behelfsmässigen Unterkünfte zu renovieren. Die Familien sollen unter menschenwürdigen Bedingungen wohnen können. Und seit 2016 führt «Najdeh» ein «Cash for Work»-Programm durch: Dank regelmässiger Arbeitseinsätze können sich rund 160 Flüchtlinge ein zusätzliches Einkommen von 50 US-Dollar pro Monat erwirtschaften.

https://www.heks.ch/medien/heks-kampagne-die-syrischen-fluechtlinge-im-libanon-brauchen-unsere-hilfe

Earlier reporting:

https://www.freitag.de/autoren/dklose/libanon-mosaik-lebanon-mosaic-6

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

https://www.freitag.de/autoren/dklose/jemenkrieg-mosaik-364-yemen-war-mosaic-364

https://www.freitag.de/autoren/dklose/jemenkrieg-mosaik-363-yemen-war-mosaic-363

15:37 06.12.2017
Dieser Beitrag gibt die Meinung des Autors wieder, nicht notwendigerweise die der Redaktion des Freitag.
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Dietrich Klose

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

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