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Lebanon: Israeli Pressure on Saudi Arabia to Contain Hezbollah

Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri | Kremlin

Beirut - Saudi Arabia says Lebanon has declared war on Saudi Arabia. Usually, a declaration of war originates from the aggressor, not the other way around. 

Having lost in Syria, the Saudi-Gulf-US coalition against Iran, has switched focus to Lebanon.

Lebanon is a small country of 3 million in the Eastern Mediterranean.  The main religious sect is Shia Muslims.  The Shittes have a political party named Hezbollah, which was founded in the early 1980‘s, and they have a very powerful military wing.  In fact, they are more powerful than the Lebanese Army.

The Israeli Army invaded and occupied the South of Lebanon from 1982 until May 24, 2000.  During that period of a brutal military occupation more than 30,000 Lebanese civilians were killed, and 120,000 injured and disabled.  Hezbollah was founded as a grass-roots resistance movement, with the goal of expelling the occupiers.  They were successful, and brought about the liberation.  The South of Lebanon was populated by both Shittes and Christians.   Lebanon’s largest Christian party, The Free Patriotic Movement, and the El Marada Movement, and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation are all Christian parties aligned with Hezbollah.

For the Shia, they see resistance to Israel as a religious duty, and the Christians see Hezbollah as their only defense against Radical terrorists.

Part of the Lebanese Sunnis, who are aligned with Saudi Arabia and USA, are against Hezbollah, and support the Israeli position against the group.  However, there are many Lebanese Sunnis who support Hezbollah because they adhere to the resistance ideology.

The resistance ideology calls for the end to all Israeli occupation: in Palestine, in Lebanon and in Syria.  Resistance to the Israeli occupation would end with a peace treaty between all parties. So far, this goal is just a dream.

Hezbollah is a political party, which runs in elections and has won Parliament seats, as well as a health and social services provider in Lebanon, and also a military force capable of keeping the South of Lebanon free from invasion.  The only way Hezbollah could be expected to lay down their arms would be for the Israeli government to evacuate Shebaa Farms, a small area in South Lebanon, and to evacuate the Golan Heights in Syria, which the UN passed a resolution calling on Israel to leave, and to make a peace treaty with Palestine, under the UN and US approved and accepted “Two State Solution”, also known as “Land for Peace”.

However, there has been no movement on any of those goals, and so Hezbollah remains a formidable military group, which has been in Syria fighting alongside the Syrian Arab Army as they battle Radical terrorists, some of whom are directed, supported and financed by both US-NATO coalition, and their Saudi-Gulf partners.

On the one side in Syria you have the Syrian government forces, along with Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah forces, and the other side is Radical fighters by many different names, and most are supported by Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  The Syrian conflict is a “Proxy War”, pitting Iran’s partners against America’s partners.

Saad Hariri was the Prime Minster of Lebanon, and represented the Sunni sect.  He was a pragmatic leader and chose to deal with Hezbollah and the various other parties who held differing views.  He and other leaders were aiming for national unity, instead of divisions which would not be productive. 

Saad Hariri was Lebanese, but also held a Saudi citizenship, due to the fact he was born in Riyadh, and raised in the household of King Fahd, as his mother was married to the King .  Hariri’s father had been Prime Minster of Lebanon before his death.  On November 2, 2017 Saad Hariri met with the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, who later said the meeting was successful.  The next day Hariri flew to Saudi Arabia, and the next day he announced his resignation there.

This was a serious breach in political protocol, and left the Lebanese President and Speaker of Parliament wondering what had happened, and why they were not informed personally and officially.    They were watching his global televised resignation speech, which blamed Iran for basically everything wrong in the Middle East, and especially Lebanon.

It was obvious that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was sending a message through Hariri’s resignation  to Hezbollah, and to their supporter Iran, that the Kingdom was holding Saad Hariri responsible for the failure to de-arm Hezbollah, and holding Iran to blame for the Saudi-US coalition loss in the Syrian battlefields.   The young Prince was angry, bitter and didn’t take a loss well.  Someone would have to pay the price.

During these events, the Crown Prince was also rounding up and arresting many of the fellow Princes, all his own relatives, and placing them in detention against their will.  This was done under the guise of an ‘anti-corruption’ crackdown.  The charges were corruption and money laundering.    The US official comments praised the decision, and seemed to stem from the lavish Anti-Terrorism Summit held in Saudi Arabia for President Trump.  Since that meeting, Saudi Arabia and UAE took aim at Qatar; blaming them for sponsoring and funding terrorism: that is the pot calling the kettle black.

The US-NATO-GULF side lost the gamble in Syria.  Now, they have to begin Plan B: an attempt to cut off Hezbollah’s military might in Lebanon, which played a role in the victory in Syria.  This is strategic goal of Israeli, who views Hezbollah as a threat.

Due to the loss of ISIS in Syria, there is now a clear land bridge from Tehran to Beirut, which could be used to ship weapons to Hezbollah.  Israel routinely attacks Syria, citing weapons being transported to Hezbollah.  It is the Israel-US-Saudi-Gulf pact which seeks to de-arm Hezbollah and prevent the Iranian supplies to reach them.  In the bigger picture: the Israel-US-Saudi-Gulf pact seeks to weaken Iran in the Middle East.

The Russia-Iran-Syria pact is winning the war against terror on the battlefields.  The risk is great for a US-Russia direct conflict in the new aggression against Hezbollah and Iran by Saudi Arabia.  The question is: who is writing the game rules for this giant chess match played on the hot shifting sands?

Steven Sahiounie

Steven was born in Fresno, California. His parents moved with him to Latakia, Syria as a very small child, which was the birthplace of his father.

He attended both private and public schools in Latakia from 1st grade to 12th grade. He took his American High School diploma, from the state of Maine, GED, while studying at home and taking the exams at AMIDEAST in Beirut, Lebanon. Steven is currently enrolled in a Lebanese University, studying English Literature. Steven is proficient in both Arabic and English.

Steven began writing political analysis and commentary during the Syrian war, which began in March 2011. He has published several articles, and has been affiliated with numerous media. He has been interviewed by US, Canadian and German media.