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Saudi Purge and Lebanese PM Resigns: New Front in the War for the Middle East?

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, September 2017 (Photo: kremlin.ru; Source: Wikicommons)

On Saturday November the 4th, the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri announced his resignation in a televised statement. The statement, which was broadcast from Saudi Arabia on a Saudi TV channel, caused shock and political uncertainty throughout Lebanese society and beyond. During the speech, Hariri accused Iran of ‘spreading evil’ in the region, signalling that Saudi Arabia may be preparing to ramp up efforts to combat Hezbollah as Iran’s ally in Lebanon. Hariri also claimed there was a plot to assassinate him, although a Lebanese Army spokesman has since said that this claim has no merit.

In what is very likely a related move, on the very same day Saudi authorities executed a purge of their own establishment by arresting a large number of powerful figures in the country, including eleven princes, more than thirty former and current ministers, as well as several media bosses. Those taken into custody include well-known names such as Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor who owns significant stakes in Citigroup and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, and National Guard Commander Prince Mitieb bin Abdullah.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

In total 11 princes, 4 serving ministers, 10 ex-ministers and a dozen other high officials have been detained on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (image, left).

Reports also suggest that, for reasons yet unknown, Hariri may also be held under guard by Saudi security services, possibly in the same hotel as Prince Al-Waleed and other high officials placed under arrest.

Meanwhile, western media are hyping Hariri’s resignation as a prelude to a possible ‘fresh war’ in Lebanon.

All of this coincided with three other unusual events on the same day…

Yesterday’s Saudi upheaval also saw the downing of a helicopter carrying Prince Mansour bin Muqrin and 7 other officials apparently heading towards Saudi Arabia’s southern Yemeni border. All passengers were reported dead. The cause of the wreck is unknown.

At the same time, a spokesman for the Houthi Ansarullah movement based in Saana, Yemen, told Al Jazeera the group had launched a Burkan 2-H Scud-type missile towards Riyadh late Saturday. This was the second such missile strike this year as reported by 21WIRE.

The Saudi purge also coincided with a provocative statement by US president Donald Trump stating that Saudi Arabia should take its state-run oil giant, Aramco, public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018.

It is not yet clear what the endgame of these moves is for the Saudi regime, but it is clear that the rulers of Saudi Arabia have pulled the trigger on a series of major power-plays. It is likely that they are consolidating power at home by taking out dissenting or potentially dissenting voices, while abroad they may be shifting focus from Syria to Lebanon and Hezbollah – as part of the US-Israel-Saudi proxy war against Iran. Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved of Hariri’s resignation, the extent to which Israel and the United States are involved or informed about these moves is not yet known. However, it is remarkable just how aligned the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia appear to have become regarding Middle East regional politics.

What does it mean? More on this from Moon of Alabama

King Salman of Saudi Arabia, with US President Donald Trump (Photo: The White House; Source: Wikicommons)

Moon Of Alabama

Four days ago we asked: Is The “Moderate Al-Qaeda” Set To Target Hizbullah?. The implied answer in that piece was “Yes, the war is coming to Lebanon.”

Today the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri resigned with a statement issues from Saudi Arabia on the Saudi Arabian TV station Al Arabia (video). This is the opening shot of the war.

The Saudi-Israeli-U.S. axis will lose this war while Iran and Russia will win from it.

Earlier this week the extremely sectarian Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan had threatened Hizbullah in Lebanon and announced surprises:

Firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on Monday called for “toppling Hizbullah” and promised “astonishing” developments in “the coming days.”

Referring to his Sunday tweet about the Lebanese government, the minister said: “I addressed my tweet to the government because the Party of Satan (Hizbullah) is represented in it and it is a terrorist party. The issue is not about toppling the government but rather that Hizbullah should be toppled.”

“The coming developments will definitely be astonishing,” al-Sabhan added.

While the fighting in Syria and Iraq was ongoing, Lebanon was kept at peace. With the wars ending Lebanon is again the place where proxy fights are carried out. In mid October Joseph Bahout predicted this development:

Regionally, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are now seeking ways to compensate for the loss of Syria as a place where they could defy and bleed Iran. A renewed desire to reverse their regional fortunes could lead them to try regaining a foothold in Lebanon. The Gulf states, Israel, and the United States do not want Iran to reap the benefits of a victory in Syria. If ever they seek to rebalance the regional relationship with Tehran in the Levant, the only place to do so would be Lebanon, despite the many risks that would accompany such an effort.In such an event, and despite its reticence to jeopardize its Lebanese sanctuary, Hezbollah could have no choice but to accept such a challenge, especially if there is an Israeli component to it.

Continue reading this story at Moon Of Alabama

READ MORE MIDDLE EAST NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Middle East Files




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