Following the sudden resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Lebanon — whose political processes and institutions have long been dominated by Iran proxy Hezbollah — appears set for a new political crisis.
And because of that, it also may once again become ground zero for regional power war.
Israel and ally Saudi Arabia are working to isolate Hezbollah, which is their shared enemy, in their Lebanese stronghold. Any armed conflict there could eventually draw in Iran.
Increasingly, analysts believe that Hariri was ‘sacked’ per se by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, who recently launched a purge of of officials and business executives in the kingdom, many of them members of the royal family.
It could be he viewed Hariri, who resigned in Saudi Arabia, as doing little more than providing cover for dominant Hezbollah political and military forces in his country.
“MBS is an impatient man,” said Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, referring to the crown prince by his initials. The removal of Hariri “may be a Saudi play to initiate an Israeli response and bloody the nose of Hezbollah.”
The Saudis also believe that Iran is winning the battle for regional dominance and influence over the Middle East.
Analyst Comment: We have been watching Israeli preparations for war with Hezbollah in Lebanon for several weeks, and nothing has changed in terms of likelihood of a new conflict between them. The difference now may be that the Israelis will have Saudi assistance — or vice-versa.
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