World View: Saad Hariri Shocks Lebanon by Resigning as PM While in Saudi Arabia

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Saad Hariri shocks Lebanon by resigning as PM while in Saudi Arabia
  • Lebanon enters the Sunni/Shia front line between Iran and Saudi Arabia

Saad Hariri shocks Lebanon by resigning as PM while in Saudi Arabia

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (L) and former prime minister Saad Hariri (R)
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (L) and former prime minister Saad Hariri (R)

Saad Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon, shocked the country and the region on Saturday by announcing his resignation as prime minister of Lebanon from a television studio in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia.

The main points of his announcement were:

  • Hariri believed that he is in danger of being assassinated. The Saudis say they have evidence of an assassination attempt several days ago.
  • He compared himself to his father, Rafiq Hariri, a much beloved former Lebanese prime minister and businessman, who was killed in 2005 by a massive explosion in Beirut that was blamed on Syria and Hezbollah. He had been instrumental in Lebanon’s recovery following the civil wars and the Syrian invasion in the 1990s.
  • Saad Hariri on Saturday was vitriolically critical of Iran, saying that it caused “sedition, devastation and ruin” across the Mideast, “driven by a deep hatred of the Arab nation and an overwhelming desire to destroy and control it.”
  • He said that Iran’s puppet Hezbollah has taken control of Lebanon by “using the force of its weapons,” even though those weapons are only supposed to be used for resistance to Israel.

Hariri’s exact words are as follows:

You are the people of a great Lebanon, with its traditions, values and bright history. You were the beacon of science, knowledge and democracy until you became governed by groups that did not care for your wellbeing. They were supported by forces outside the borders, which implanted among the people those who wished to cause strife, and formed a government inside a government. This ended with these forces controlling branches of government and obtaining the final say in the affairs of Lebanon and the [lives of the] Lebanese.

I refer, frankly and unequivocally, to Iran, which plants sedition, devastation and ruin, which is attested to by its interference in the internal affairs of the Arab nation, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen – driven by a deep hatred of the Arab nation and an overwhelming desire to destroy and control it. Unfortunately, I found the sons who put their hand in [Iran’s] hand, and openly declare their loyalty to them and seek to kidnap Lebanon from its Arab and international environment, with its values and ideals. I mean Hezbollah, which is the arm of Iran not only in Lebanon but also in other Arab countries.

To the great Lebanese people: over the past decades, Hezbollah has unfortunately managed to impose a fait accompli in Lebanon using the force of its weapons, which are alleged to be solely for the resistance [to Israel]. …

We live in an atmosphere similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafiq Hariri, and I have sensed that someone has been targeting me.

Based on the principles I inherited from the late martyr Rafiq Hariri and the principles of the Great Cedar Revolution, and because I do not want to let the Lebanese down or accept any deviations from these principles, I declare my resignation as Lebanese prime minister. I am convinced that the will of the Lebanese is stronger and their resolve is stronger. They are able to overcome these forces from inside or outside. I hope that Lebanon will be the strongest free independent country, with no authority over it except for its great people, governed by law and protected by one army and one weapon.

Reuters and Daily Star (Lebanon) and Naharnet (Lebanon)

Lebanon enters the Sunni/Shia front line between Iran and Saudi Arabia

Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in 2005 because of his opposition to control of Lebanon’s government by Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad. Public and international pressure forced Syria to withdraw completely from Lebanon, but this only strengthened Hezbollah, which was and is the puppet of Iran and Syria.

Saad Hariri clearly does not have the charisma and leadership qualities of his father and is still in the shadow of the explosive death of his father 12 years ago. He shares his father’s belief that Lebanon should be run by Lebanon’s people, not by Iran and Syria. So with Hezbollah continually gaining strength in Lebanon’s government, Hariri became the most vocal opponent of Hezbollah. That could explain why he felt that his life would be in danger if he made the announcement in Beirut, and felt it was necessary to announce his resignation in a foreign country: Saudi Arabia.

However, his political opponents are saying that the decision to resign on television in Riyadh is inexplicable except as a plot by Saudi Arabia. Iran’s officials are saying that the resignation was engineered by US president Donald Trump and Saudi king Mohammed bin Salman. It seems unlikely that Trump was involved, but it’s quite possible that the Saudis strongly urged Hariri to step down.

Lebanon’s constitution requires that the three main offices be occupied by specific sectarian groups.

  • The prime minister, formerly Saad Hariri until Saturday, must be a Sunni Muslim.
  • The president, currently held by Michel Aoun, must be a Syriac Maronite Catholic.
  • And the speaker of parliament, currently held by Nabhi Berri, must be a Shia Muslim.

Hariri became prime minister in 2016, under a deal where Michel Aoun, a Maronite Catholic and close ally of Hezbollah, became president. When Hariri took office, he promised quite optimistically to end sectarian divisions.

That was never possible anyway, but the war in Syria only made things worse. As Iran’s puppet militia, Hezbollah became Iran’s major fighting force in Syria, and also took control Lebanon’s national army.

After Hariri’s resignation on Saturday, it falls to the Beirut government to find a new Sunni Muslim prime minister. If, as many believe, Hariri resigned because of pressure from Saudi Arabia, then the Saudis will not stop there and will pressure other prominent Sunnis in Lebanon not to take the job. What many people fear is that Lebanon’s government faces years of chaos, just as it did following the explosive death of Rafiq Hariri in 2005.

However, it is worth pointing out that, after 2005, many people thought that Lebanon was close to a new civil war. During the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, which took place on Lebanon’s soil, I quoted Lebanon’s President Émile Geamil Lahoud as saying:

Believe me, what we get from [Israeli bombers] is nothing compared to [what would happen] if there is an internal conflict [a new civil war] in Lebanon. So our thanks comes when we are united, and we are really united, and the national army is doing its work according to the government, and the resistance [Hezbollah] is respected in the whole Arab world from the population point of view. And very highly respected in Lebanon as well.

This was Lahoud expressing the fear shared by all survivors of the last war that its horrors would be repeated. As I pointed out at the time, Lebanon was in a generational Awakening era, with the survivors of the last crisis civil war still alive, so there was no chance of a new civil war.

Over ten years have passed since then, and most of those survivors are still alive, and so there is still no chance of a new civil war (unless the politicians force one to occur, as Bashar al-Assad has done in Syria).

The larger picture is that Saturday’s resignation puts Lebanon squarely in between Saudi Arabia and Iran and their battles for regional hegemony. Saudi Arabia is fighting Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, with no end in sight. Saudi Arabia has led this year’s land, sea and air blockade of Qatar, giving Qatar’s relationship with Iran as one of the reasons. And the Saudis are very anxious about Iran on the cusp of a major victory in the war in Syria by establishing control of a swath of land all along the “Shia Crescent,” from Iran, through Iraq, through Syria, and then on to Lebanon in one direction, and the Mediterranean Sea in another direction.

In Syria, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is losing territory rapidly, and it appears that its total defeat is only weeks away. The defeat of ISIS will free up Lebanon and Hezbollah to focus on its other enemies: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Ever since the ironically named Arab Spring began in 2011, we have seen chaos and war spring up in one Arab country after another: Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. Now Lebanon may join the list, as the end of ISIS and the resignation of Hariri completely change the political landscape across the region.

We have pointed out in the past that all the various armies and militias fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria now have nothing better to do than start fighting each other. In defeating ISIS, the Turks, the Iranians, the Kurds, the Shia militias, Hezbollah and the Syrian rebel militias have all achieved a famous victory, and now they’re going to celebrate by killing each other.

As I’m writing this article on Saturday evening ET, there is late news that the Houthis in Yemen have launched a ballistic missile that reached the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, about 800 km from the Yemen border. The fact that the Houthis now have these medium-range ballistic missiles, probably supplied by Iran, that can reach as far as Riyadh is a game-changer in the Yemen war and could lead to a further escalation in the region.

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the “axis” of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the “allies,” the US, India, Russia and Iran. Daily Star (Lebanon) and CNN and Debka and Al Jazeera

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Lebanon, Saad Hariri, Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Rafiq Hariri, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, Michel Aoun, Nabhi Berri, Émile Geamil Lahoud, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Turkey, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Khalid International Airport, Yemen, Houthis
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