Tensions Between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon Rise

By Ellie Kreidie

The last week in the Middle East has reignited long standing feuds and conflicts across the region that have caused concern among many experts and people. With the surprise resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which was  recorded from Saudi Arabia rather than his own country, one of the most notable stable democracies in the Middle East has gone into uncharted territory.

With accusing Hezbollah of threatening to end his life, Hariri’s resignation has also sparked the longstanding feud between Saudi Arabia, a leading Sunni nation state, and Iran, the major Shia nation in the region. With the root cause of their conflict going back years, Al Jazeera states that it is Lebanon that holds a special interest for both these nations due to the border of the nation and the wealth that accompanies Lebanon as one of the most Westernized countries in the region. A large part of that conflict is centered around Hezbollah, the Islamist militant political party based in Lebanon.

The Gatestone Institute claims that Hezbollah is funded by Iran, and has strong documentation to prove it. With Hezbollah being one of the only Shi’a minority Muslim groups worldwide, it was custom for them to gain alliance with other Shi’a groups, especially the only Shi’a majority nation in Iran. Hezbollah has always had a complicated history with Lebanon for their relationship with Iran and other decisions throughout their history. Yet, it is important to note that they are a large part of Lebanese society and are respected with seats in the government. Above all, however, the group is praised by Lebanon and other Arab states due to the group being the force that kicked Israel out of Lebanon a few decades ago, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The Lebanese President is refusing to accept the resignation of Hariri until he returns from Saudi Arabia, which he is refusing to do with the plea that his life is in jeopardy. With Hariri still in Saudi Arabia, there have been many red flags of their involvement in this resignation due to the scandal-filled weekend they had with the arrests of 11 of their princes on corruption charges. That decision gives further control of the government to the Crown Prince, who some believe may be reforming the government in a new way. Others, like Hezbollah and many Lebanese people, see it as a push for authoritarian, monarchy rule. Hezbollah media has reported that Hariri was forced to resign by the Saudis and is being held hostage, in order for Saudi Arabia to further its agenda against Hezbollah and Iran. And to top it off, concern is rising that Israel is ready to go to war with Hezbollah, while throwing their support behind Hariri and Saudi Arabia, both foes of their enemy Iran, according to the Huffington Post.

Lebanon was a country that was able to escape the protests and turmoil that happened during the Arab Spring. During the Syrian Civil War, the country stepped up and took in over 1.5 million Syrian refugees, now in composing over 30 percent of its population. Lebanon seemed to be the only country to escape further complications and concerns until these recent events. This resignation and the arrests could lead to more political instability, further concern in the region and possibly even war.

 

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