a series of blatant measures, Saudi Arabia and its regional allies
are evidently trying to destabilize Lebanon. The development is
apiece with how Saudi Arabia and Turkey have both sought to undermine
the ceasefire in Syria and to escalate that conflict to a region-wide
New York Times report this week poses a rather naive conundrum:
«Diplomats and analysts have spent several weeks trying to
understand why the Saudis would precipitously start penalizing
Lebanon – and perhaps their own Lebanese allies – over the
powerful influence of Hezbollah, which is nothing new».
here’s a quick answer: Russia’s very effective squelching of the
covert war for regime-change in Syria. That has sent Saudi Arabia and
Turkey into a paroxysm of rage.
military intervention in Syria to defend the Arab state from a
foreign-backed covert war involving myriad terrorist proxy groups,
has dealt a severe blow to the machinations of Washington, its NATO
allies and regional client states.
Washington and its Western partners seem resigned to pursue regime
change by an alternative political track, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are
stuck in the covert-war groove. They are betting that the terrorist
proxy armies they have weaponized can somehow be salvaged from
withering losses inflicted by Russian airpower in combination with
the ground forces of the Syrian Arab Army, Iranian military advisors
and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.
the immediate breaches of the cessation called a week ago by
Washington and Moscow in Syria. Turkish military shelling across the
border into northern Syria is not just a breach. It is an outrageous
provocation to Syrian sovereignty, as Moscow has pointed out.
Saudi military mobilization, including Turkish forces, on its
northeast border with Iraq, as well as the reported deployment of
Saudi fighter jets to Turkey’s Incirlik airbase opposite Syria’s
northwest Latakia province can also be viewed as calculated moves to
undermine the tentative ceasefire. The logical conclusion of this
reckless aggression by both Saudi Arabia and Turkey is to precipitate
a wider conflict, one which would draw in the US and Russia into open
series of Saudi-led initiatives towards Lebanon should be interpreted
in this context. In the past week, Saudi Arabia and its closely
aligned Sunni monarchies in the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council
(GCC) have declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The word
«anachronistic» comes to mind, belying an ulterior motive.
Saudi rulers, led by King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammad
bin Salman, also announced that they were canceling plans to grant
Lebanon $4 billion in aid. Most of the aid was to be in form of
military grants, to be spent on upgrading the Lebanese national army
with French weaponry and equipment.
providing any proof, the GCC states – Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the
United Arab Emirates and Oman in addition to Saudi Arabia – issued
travel warnings to their nationals intending to visit Lebanon. The
GCC also claimed that Hezbollah was interfering in their internal
affairs and trying to recruit Gulf nationals into the organization to
fight in Syria. The GCC has even threatened to deport Lebanese
expatriate workers, some half a million of which work in the Gulf.
were also regional media reports last week of a large cache of
weapons having been seized by Greek authorities, stowed illicitly
onboard a cargo ship sailing from Turkey to Lebanon.
file photo shows Hezbollah resistance movement combatants in a
military parade.The cumulative intent seems patent. The Saudis and
their regional allies – who have been pushing for regime change for
the past five years against the Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah-allied
government of President Bashar al-Assad – see the escalation of
regional instability as the best way to salvage their covert war in
London and Paris probably have sufficient cynical intelligence to
realize that the covert war involving terrorist proxies is no longer
a viable option – given the formidable forces arrayed in support of
the Syrian state, not least Russian air power.
Saudis and the Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan appear to be
inflexibly wedded to the covert war agenda. For these powers anything
less than the outright removal of Assad would be seen as a grave blow
to their despotic egos and, for them, an unbearable boost to their
regional rival, Shia-dominated Iran.
GCC criminalization of Shia-affiliated Hezbollah is obviously a fit
of revenge-seeking given how the militia has ably helped the Syrian
army retake major areas from the regime-change Sunni extremist
insurgents, in conjunction with the Russian air strikes. The steady
shutting down of border crossings in Latakia, Idlib and Aleppo has
cut-off the terror brigades from their weapons supply routes via
Turkey. This is partly why the Erdogan regime has responded by
cross-border shelling in order to give re-supply efforts a modicum of
the Saudi-led campaign to sanction Hezbollah is also aimed at
destabilizing the sectarian fault lines inside Lebanon. Hezbollah may
be denigrated by Washington and some other Western states as a
«terrorist group» and of presiding over «a state within a state»
due to its military wing which exists alongside the Lebanese national
Hezbollah has constitutionally recognized legitimacy within Lebanon.
This is partly due to the militia’s primary role in driving out the
US-backed Israeli military occupation of the country in 2000 and
again in 2006. For many Lebanese people, including Christians and
Sunni Muslims, Hezbollah is held with pride as an honorable
resistance force to US-led imperialism in the region.
party – which Russia also recognizes as a legitimate national
resistance movement – comprises about 10 per cent of the Lebanese
parliament and holds two cabinet positions in the coalition Beirut
the Saudi-led proposal to sanction Hezbollah seems nothing more than
a gratuitous bid to open up sectarian fissures that have cleaved
Lebanon in the recent past during its 1975-1990 civil war. The
provocation of labeling a member of government in a foreign state as
«terrorist» – seemingly out of the blue – has to be seen as a
tendentious bid to destabilize. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
this week condemned the Saudi bid to inflame sedition in Lebanon, and
it is hard to disagree with that assessment.
are still pockets of extremist Sunni support within Lebanon that the
Saudis and Turkey appear to be trying to incite. During the Syrian
conflict, there have been sporadic outbreaks of violence in the
cities of Sidon and Tripoli by Salafist elements with close links to
Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Now those same elements are being incited to
take to the streets again.
is not clear if Lebanon can hold together. A government minister
linked to a pro-Saudi faction has resigned in recent weeks over what
he claims is «Hezbollah domination» in Lebanese politics.
Lebanese are discontent over social and economic problems dogging the
country. A refuse-collection backlog over the past year has left
large parts of the capital overflowing with putrid waste. The tiny
country of four million is also feeling the strain of accommodating
some one million Syrian refugees.
thought of re-opening old wounds and re-igniting the horror of civil
war is a heavy burden on most Lebanese citizens that may be enough to
make them baulk at malign pressures.
what can be said for sure is that the role of Turkey, Saudi Arabia
and the other Arab monarchies is absolutely unconscionable and
criminal. They seem fully prepared to plunge yet another neighboring
country into a sectarian bloodbath in order to gratify their illicit