Riyadh (November 7, 2017): Fuelling the prevailing turmoil in the Middle East, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has accused the Lebanese government of declaring war against the kingdom.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri had unexpectedly resigned last week during a trip to Saudi Arabia.
Hariri’s resignation was broadcast from Saudi Arabia in which he said he was stepping down as he believed there was an assassination plot against him. He accused Iran of sowing strife in the Arab world with its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah.
Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, said that Hariri’s resignation had been “imposed” by Saudi Arabia.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, said that he will wait to accept or reject Hariri’s resignation until he returns to Lebanon to explain his reasons, read some media reports.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed met outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday, Al Arabiya reported, as Hariri left Saudi Arabia for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Hariri met King Salman on Monday as speculation continued to swirl over his surprising move which threw his fragile government into disarray.
His departure from the kingdom comes after days of speculation in Lebanon that the Lebanese-Saudi politician is under house arrest in Saudi Arabia following his resignation over the weekend.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are strong allies and are allegedly spearheading an anti-Iran coalition in the region.
Saudi minister for Gulf affairs Thamer al-Sabhan recently threatened that Lebanon’s government would “be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia” because of what he described as “acts of aggression” committed by Hezbollah.
Sabhan claimed that Hezbollah was involved in every “terrorist act” that threatened the kingdom. “The Lebanese must choose between peace or aligning with Hezbollah,” he added, without offering any details about possible actions that could be taken by the KSA.
There was no immediate response from Lebanon. On the other hand, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Lebanon’s capital Beirut, said the “strong language” used by Saudi officials was described by some analysts as “unprecedented”.
“People are concerned … [by] the very tough rhetoric,” she added.
Hariri’s decision brought down Lebanon’s coalition government, which included members of Hezbollah.
“Lebanon is divided into two similar [camps],” political analyst Khaldoun El Charif told Al Jazeera.
“One is pro-Iran and the other is pro-Saudi, which means if things get worse it could lead to a confrontation between the two parties like what happened [in the past],” he added. “That is why we need to find a solution.”
But the constitutional process to appoint a new prime minister has been put on hold, with Lebanon’s Justice Minister Salim Jreissati saying there will be no action taken until Hariri returns from Saudi Arabia.
“We have been told by the president that we won’t take any decision before knowing the circumstances of Hariri’s resignation from the prime minister himself,” Jreissati was quoted as saying.
Khodr said “it will be hard to find” a political figure to replace Hariri.
“According to Lebanon’s power-sharing deal, he must be a Sunni Muslim, and if internal stability is to be maintained he must be a consensual figure able to bring the rival parties together,” added Khodr.
“Clearly, the political crisis has now worsened and people are worried that it’s going to be a prolonged political paralysis in the country.”