MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon in the eye of the storm

Dealing with the snake’s head, which is the source of the poison, is better than preoccupying yourself and wasting your time trying to tackle its tail.

This is the formula which Saudi Arabia, and its American ally, seems to have decided to work upon in terms of the crisis with the Iranians in general and their coup in Yemen in particular.

It seems the ballistic missile which the Iranians ordered the Houthis to fire toward Riyadh will be the straw that breaks the Iranian camel’s back as well the back of its destructive wings, primarily Hezbollah militias, in the region. Lebanon’s official government includes members of this terrorist group. The Lebanese official decisions are controlled, directed and governed by this militia.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned recently, tried to get parties allied with this militia to side with Lebanon’s internal and regional interests instead of serving Hezbollah that’s an agent to a foreign party. He has done that during his entire term as prime minister but his attempts just failed and he ended up resigning.

Hariri resignation stirred turmoil in Lebanon and made the Lebanese people see the magnitude of trouble Hezbollah has put them in

Mohammed Al Shaikh

Hariri’s resignation stirred political turmoil in Lebanon and made the Lebanese people see the magnitude of the trouble which Hezbollah has put them in, especially that the repercussions began to appear after Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries and Western countries prevented their citizens from travelling to Lebanon.

This implies that serious measures will be taken by major countries, primarily by the US, toward Hezbollah, which is one of Iran’s destructive wings in the region.

The question which many Lebanese people are asking is how will this confrontation shape up? Will it be a military confrontation or a confrontation via economic sanctions? It seems the military option is unlikely for now considering the consequences it will have on the region’s security and stability, and on Lebanon in particular.

Economic sanctions

Tough economic sanctions are the possible option as they can restrain Lebanese banks, especially transactions made by Lebanese expatriates, as they are important source of funding economic activities inside the country. When these banks are restrained and prevented from dealing with Hezbollah or with those allied to it, the Lebanese state will be gravely harmed.

It seems Hariri expected these threats which Lebanon cannot afford to bear. He thus decided to resign and left those allied with Hezbollah and Iran to face the next storm alone. Lebanese President Michel Aoun who is allied with the militia is the one who will confront this storm and he will have to deal with this crisis.

Also read: Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the onus of preserving relationship

There are only two options here: Either Hezbollah stays and remains protected by the Lebanese state, while Lebanon loses its stability, or they get rid of Hezbollah, and hence get rid of Iranian influence so that Lebanon maintains its stability.

Saudi Arabia’s first enemy in the region is Iran. Saudi Arabia knows that the Houthis who staged a coup against the legitimate authority in Yemen are mere primitive fighters as the real threat comes from those standing behind them, i.e. Iran and its main wing Hezbollah.

Clipping Hezbollah’s wings in Lebanon thus means clipping the mullahs’ wings in Iran. I have no doubt that the Iranians, and these militias’ leaders, along with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, are well-aware of this.

How will they act? Will they be able to face this hurricane? This is what the next few months will reveal.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Mohammed Al Shaikh is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah newspaper. He tweets @alshaikhmhmd.

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Last Update: Monday, 13 November 2017 KSA 12:38 - GMT 09:38
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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