Saudi officials seem to be looking to turn a retaliatory missile-strike from Yemen into the start of a region-wide war, saying it amounted to a declaration of war against them by both Lebanon and Iran.
(ANALYSIS) — Last week The Duran reported that on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s rage-filled resignation address from the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Hariri, who is a duel Lebanese-Saudi citizen, leads the Lebanese party Future Movement which forms part of the March 14 Allience in the Lebanese parliament. The future movement attracts few Shi’a and Christian voters and has been openly critical of Hezbollah’s assistance to Syria in its war against al-Qaeda, FSA and ISIS.
During his resignation speech, he blasted Iran and Hezbollah in a manner that is highly reminiscent of Israeli propaganda. In a phrase echoing remarks made by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Hariri said that “Iran’s hand in the region would be cut off”, although Hariri, like Netanyahu, failed to explain how Iran has a ‘hand in the region’ in a way that violates any norms of international law. Hariri then stated that he feared for his life, should he remain in office, while providing no evidence of credible threats to his safety.
The Duran reported that the timing of Saad Hariri’s resignation was more significant than the content of the resignation speech.
The speech came shortly after Hariri met with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and only hours after the CIA published suspicious documents which perversely try to link Iran with al-Qaeda.
The fact of the matter is, as everyone except the CIA seems to know, that al-Qaeda is a declared enemy of Iran and Iran is a declared enemy of al-Qaeda, both in terms of geo-strategic interests as well as ideology.
In 1998, Iran almost went to war with Afghanistan to avenge the slaughter of Iranian diplomats by al-Qaeda who at the time were headquartered in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.
More recently, Iran has fought with Iraqi and Syrian troops in their war against al-Qaeda and ISIS, an organisation which was founded by members of a group called al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Moreover, Iranians are targeted by al-Qaeda terrorists across the world in a ruthless fashion.
The absurdity of the CIA’s claim that Iran and al-Qaeda had attempted to work together is not only insulting to those with a sense of reality, but it obscures the fact that in Syria and Libya before that, the US has allied itself with al-Qaeda forces. The US in fact founded al-Qaeda in the 1980s when it was known as the Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen. Members of the group even met with Ronald Reagan in the White House.
Zerohedge is reporting that as expected, Saudi Arabia has cast itself as the victim of external Shia plotting after its internal weekend of chaos which included a missile attack from Yemen, the deaths of two princes and other high officials within a mere 24 hours, and an aggressive crackdown against dissent in the royal family which saw close to a dozen princes placed under house arrest. And as Al Jazeera noted, in this Saudi version of ‘Game of Thrones’, the 32-year-old Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) shows that he is willing to throw the entire region into jeopardy to wear the royal gown.
While Saudi Arabia has long blamed Iran for sowing unrest in the region, this evening’s declaration by Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan that Lebanon has “declared war” against the kingdom is truly a historic first. But perhaps the biggest problem is that international media is currently uncritically spreading the statement, whereas what such a bizarre claim actually warrants is laughter.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb sums it up in a basic geography lesson in this tweet below:
Either media is stupid, or Saudi rulers are stupid, or both
Lebanon did not formally declare war &no common border
— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) November 6, 2017
Here is the Saudi statement as reported by Reuters:
Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah.
Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan told Al-Arabiya TV that Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister on Saturday, had been told that acts of “aggression” by Hezbollah “were considered acts of a declaration of war against Saudi Arabia by Lebanon and by the Lebanese Party of the Devil”.
Though clearly absurd (that Lebanon has declared war on KSA), the statement is driven by legitimate and deep-rooted fear, for not only has Hezbollah transformed itself into a Middle East powerhouse whose influence has grown vastly in the midst of the Syrian war, but it has transitioned into a quasi-state which has gained the respect of Lebanese and Arabs across the region. As we’ve noted many times before, it is fear of Hezbollah and its increasingly broad acceptance and legitimacy within Lebanese state institutions that also drives heightened Israeli rhetoric and bellicosity of late, which has once again “surprisingly” found itself on the same side as Saudi Arabia.
And at a moment that Israel has begun massive war games, and as MBS continues his purge toward total consolidation of power over the kingdom, both unlikely bedfellows continue their war of words against Hezbollah. It’s no secret that common cause in Syria of late has led the historic bitter enemies down a pragmatic path of unspoken cooperation as both seem to have placed the break up of the so-called “Shia crescent” as their primary policy goal in the region. But that’s perhaps why few pundits seemed overly shocked when Israeli media reported in early September that bin Salman may have made a secret visit to Israel, in spite of the fact that the kingdom does not recognize the Jewish state, and the two sides do not have diplomatic relations.
Will the current chaotic trajectory of things and unholy alliance between the Saudis and Israelis place Lebanon in the cross hairs of yet another Israeli-Hezbollah war? While we’ve recently addressed this question, this new and erratic Saudi declaration certainly puts the region a big step closer to such a war becoming a reality.
Though this question of the looming specter of an Israeli-Lebanese War (which would surely involve the Saudis aiding Israel politically inside Lebanon) has been addressed many times over of late, the real question, which isn’t often analyzed, is the true military capabilities of Hezbollah. What has both Israel and the Saudis worried is the fact that the Syrian war has possibly strengthened Hezbollah, not weakened it.
— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) November 6, 2017
Top photo | Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives at the Hangzhou Exhibition Center to participate in G20 Summit, Sept. 4, 2016, in Hangzhou, China. (Etienne Oliveau/AP)
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