Nasrullah: Saudi has declared war on Lebanon

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Al Jazeera Arabic reports that Hassan Nasrullah, the secretary-general of Hizbullah accused Saudi Arabia of declaring war on Lebanon and on his party. He repeated his charge that Riyadh has abducted Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri and has forced him to announce his resignation in a bid to destabilize his country. He said that Saudi Arabia is instigating the world community against Lebanon, adding that he has evidence that the Saudi government requested Israel to strike Lebanon militarily.

For its part, Saudi Arabia called on all its citizens to leave Lebanon. Shortly thereafter a Saudi national was kidnapped for ransom in Beirut.

In a speech broadcast on television Friday evening, after he accused Saudi Arabia and its officials of declaring war on Lebanon and Hizbullah, he spoke of a Saudi attempt to impose a new president on Lebanon, replacing Hizbullah’s political ally, Michel Aoun. He said that Riyadh is also attempting to take away from Hariri his position of leadership of the Sunni “Future Party” so as to impose a new leader on it.

Nasrullah condemned what he described as an unprecedented naked Saudi intervention in Lebanese internal affairs and said that Saudi Arabia’s treatment of Hariri from the time he arrived at the airport in Riyadh is demeaning to every Lebanese citizen.

He said that Hariri is being held against his will and that he has been prohibited from returning to Lebanon. Nasrullah demanded that he be allowed to come back, and said that his resignation is unconstitutional and without legal force.

The Hizbullah leader said that Saudi Arabia is ready to pay Israel tens of billions of dollars if only Tel Aviv will launch a military strike on Lebanon. He said that in his view, however, a new Israeli war on Lebanon is unlikely. Whatever Saudi Arabia might do, he added, it won’t be able to finish off Hizbullah. He predicted Riyadh will fail in Lebanon, just as it has failed in Yemen. He said defiantly that Saudi pressure would never make Hizbullah change its stance that the Saudis are wrong to intervene against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Nasrullah charged that at the end of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, Saudi Arabia pleaded with Tel Aviv not to halt the war until Hizbullah was wiped out.

He denied taking sides in the Gulf crisis, but did say that the Saudi failure to cow Qatar was of a piece with a string of Saudi foreign policy SNAFUs.

President Michel Aoun, in the meantime, has declined to accept Hariri’s resignation, saying he will wait for the prime minister to return to Beirut and then have him explain his reasons in person. Aoun met Friday with the charge d’affaires of the Saudi embassy in Beirut and informed him that the way Hariri resigned, by telephone from Saudi Arabia, is “unacceptabl.”

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Related video:

TRT News: “Lebanon Crisis: Hezbollah leader refuses Hariri’s resignation”

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19 Responses

  1. Why is Saudi Arabia being so belligerent lately? Qatar, Yemen, now Lebanon. Or was I missing something all along?

    • New leaders and the need for diversions. Seems to be easier than actually dealing with your problems.

    • Think of the Saudi Crown Prince as a neoconservative like the Bush/Cheney gang. They thought they could rule America and the world by being “assertive” with their military, using this to silence opposition to domestic “reforms” favoring corporatization of all life.

      The only remaining question is whether this particular neocon has already set his heart on war, or just on bluffing for profit.

  2. Mohammad bin Salman has intensified his dangerous game both at home and abroad after Jared Kushner’s secret visit to Riyadh a few days ago. In addition to virtually kidnapping Saad Hariri and forcing him to resign while allegedly holding his wife and children hostage in Saudi Arabia, he has also summoned Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh, presumably to wean him and especially Hamas away from Iran. In the middle of this enormous crisis that can lead to another major regional war in the Middle East, President Trump found time during his critical visit to the Far East to phone Salman and express his support for him, and also tweeted that Salman and MbS knew what they were doing.

    Meanwhile, the vanishing US Secretary of State who has been silent about all these developments finally issued a statement yesterday that is a masterstroke in its ambiguity. It asserts: “The United States strongly supports the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Lebanon and of its political institutions.” So far so good, because supporting Lebanon’s sovereignty and its political institutions would supposedly accept the role of Hezbollah that has MPs in Lebanese Parliament and is an important element of the state. It continues: “The United States urges all parties both within Lebanon and outside to respect the integrity and independence of Lebanon’s legitimate national institutions, including the Government of Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces.” Presumably it means that Saudi Arabia should not kidnap Lebanon’s president and force him to resign, emphasizing that point by saying “In this regard, we respect Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri as a strong partner of the United States.” Then it goes on to say: “There is no legitimate place or role in Lebanon for any foreign forces, militias or armed elements other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state – which must be recognized as the sole authority for security in Lebanon.” The Lebanese armed forces and the Lebanese state have recognized the vital role that Hezbollah has played in forcing Israel out of Lebanon and in maintaining Lebanon’s independence. The statement concludes: “The United States cautions against any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country.” Does this refer to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran or even the United States and France? Some clarification would be useful.

  3. This whole business appears much deeper than the media portrays. The generation of Saudis under 30 is highly educated, and MbS is apparently persuaded that Saudi youth is no longer motivated by religion but by nationalism or personal or professional development. Bernard Haykrel, director of Near East Studies at Princeton, is quoted saying that from this perspective, Sunni Islam becomes an ideology of rallying behind the leadership of the Crown Prince, and his anti-corruption moves are popular, particularly as it seems the late king’s family, including those arrested in the recent coup, anticipating his demise, filched US$ 100 billion from the State Treasury which the Crown Prince understandably and publically wants back. If this is a solid assessment it gives him a good deal more leverage than his actions might otherwise be assumed to have and he doesn’t appear ro be risk averse. Netanyahu may be toyingwith fire. link to mediapart.fr

  4. I would also like to ask what role Jared Kushner is playing, in this rather volatile situation. He seems to be sneaking in to Saudi Arabia, on the eve on Hariri’s being detained, and seems to be inserting himself into matters far above his pay grade. Is Kushner the intermediary that does the bidding of Israel with America’s blessing?

    • As Nicolas says, there’s far more going on here than we’re able to discern or guess at given conventional media input and the complexity of dynamics involved. Every time I read something new it exposes yet another misunderstanding.

      As far at Prince Kushner goes, of course the Boy is in WAY over his head, as is Trump, obviously. These people appear to be nothing but pieces, being pushed around the board by Netanyahu, MBS and Putin. People like Tillerson and the NSC staff I would presume to at least have a clue, having devoted their careers to the navigation of relatively complex and open systems.

      A year ago we had to wake up and think about how things would unfold with Trump at the helm. Although he has somehow not blown the world up at this point, what he has been able to do is set-up the US, and by extension the world, for failure, through a thousand small cuts. Actively or inadvertently he has empowered the ambitions of these local players, but his real contribution has come through dismantling the foreign policy machinery with which such situations might at least hope to be managed.

      So, while none of what we now seen might have been foreseen with any great confidence, what we can reasonably expect is for the situation not to resolve itself spontaneously or due to deft handling by the US.

      These people (with the exception of Trump I’m guessing) all fancy themselves chess players. Which is the exact wrong perspective to bring to international geopolitics: there are no edges to the board, the pieces do not abide by limited rules or act predictably. In fact, it’s chaos theory. What can we expect next? Nothing, with any confidence.

      • Hariri has dual nationality and the report says he is being questioned as a Saudi and that the questioning is in connection with the bankruptcy of the family building business which went under for over 4 billion. Bankruptcy is apparently a very serious offense in Saudi Arabia, carrying a substantial prison sentence. That could explain his apparent docility. Meanwhile just to make the mix richer it further appears he and the other victims of the prince’s coup have been offered political asylum by the Houthis no less link to voltairenet.org

        • This whole business seems absolutely feudal. In the good ole days there were hostage exchanges to prevent this sort of thing (if that is what is happening). We were supposed to be beyond such stuff.

          Even if there is a bankruptcy issue, its transparently a trumped-up issue. Which goes to the point that progress is hardly something you can assume or take for granted. Its the jungle.

        • Whatever it’s longer term purpose, this stage looks like an attempt to humiliate Hariri, his family, and Lebanon, while running roughshod over basic diplomatic convention. He must feel he’s got someone covering his back

    • Jared Kushner rumored to be the brains behind the firing of FBI director James Comey and the purchase of 666 Fifth Avenue is diligently seeking peace in the ME, if that means getting funding for his failed real estate venture it only goes to prove that god is on his side. With Jared at the helm, peace will come the Netanyahu way, out of the barrel of a gun.

    • Kushner is desperately looking for someone to come in and rescue 666 Fifth Avenue, which he bought above market just before the crash, and for which the mortgage comes due in 18 months. So MBS suggests that a buyer might be available- if the United States supports his little re-arrangement of power in Saudi Arabia. And Jared is able to assure him that Mr. Trump won’t interfere. Deal done.

      When you’re lifting $800 billion from the bank accounts of your relatives, offering a half-billion by way of a bribe to keep the United States from interfering seems like a bargain.

      I think we will hear in a month or so that Jared’s company has, miraculously, no more financial concerns.

  5. There appears to be a real danger of war here, either by intent or miscalculation. After the secret all-night visit of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to the new mercurial Saudi leader things seem to be heating up. It is outrageous that American lives may be put in danger by the words and actions of a political neophyte with no experience and no oversight.

  6. All these bold moves by the Crown Prince seem to make headlines in the short term, but stalemate after that. Qatar, Lebanon, Syrian rebels, economic reforms, ghastly military quagmire in Yemen… I think they are a sign of weakness and desperation. Status quo forces in the region and inside the royal family are blocking him and wearing him down. He’s counting on his alliance with Trump and Jared Kushner. I expect that’s a bad bet.

  7. It is more outrageous that American Arms Manufacturers will make huge profits while innocent civilians will be blown off the face of the earth if this war breaks out over this. Can’t these egotistical leaders and all their money and power find something better to do with their time other than war war war. Where are the voices for peace, love and respect of our fellow human beings coming out of the Middle East?

  8. Saudi goals have become the proverbial riddle wrapped in an enigma inside a mystery.
    Clearly, they hate Iran and want another country to do the fighting. Perhaps Jared was supposed to get Israel to go to war on Hizbullah in Lebanon?
    And Saudi actions holding Hariri can only be described as kidnapping. Is that supposed to destabilize Lebanon in order to get a war with Israel? Did Jared OK that?
    Plus, the civil war in Yemen is going badly. link to reuters.com
    How is blockading Yemeni ports supposed to help the Saudi supported Sunni fighters? And why forbid their proxy Yemeni leader, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. from going back to Yemen?

    All this leads to the question, how likely is a coup or civil war in Saudi Arabia?

    • It may be more useful to see if there is an evident goal for all this maneuvering, which is the case here. That way you don’t get overly dazzled by all the footwork.

      The objective of both Israel and KSA is to get the US to pay the price for turning Iran into another Iraq. That is the Goal. With the thinness of legitimacy, internally and externally, enjoyed by both the Israeli and Saudi regimes, the existence of Iran’s relative legitimacy and naturally growing influence is indeed an existential threat.

      Moreover, the lynchpin for MBS’s Vision 2030, without which KSA is totally sunk, is the Aramco IPO. It’s success relies on the price of oil rebounding, if only long enough to to unload a sufficient amount of their goop on the world Banksters. They in-turn, will be able to cook this crap into derivatives which can later be unloaded onto you and me (e.g., Too Big To Fail 2.0).

      The geopolitical pressures and historical patterns of behavior here are quite clear.

  9. Here are two good articles that show the extent of Saudi disrespect towards Lebanon. In view of this overt interference in Lebanon’s affairs, including installing one of their citizens as Lebanon’s prime minister and then summoning him to Riyadh under false pretenses and them kidnapping him and forcing him to read a letter of resignation, it is rich of the Saudis to accuse Iran of interference in the affairs of Arab countries. Just imagine if something similar had been done by Iran. In the face of this grotesque interference in the affairs of other states the relative silence of the West is deafening. The statement issued by the Secretary of States is very weak and totally inadequate.
    link to independent.co.uk

    link to uk.reuters.com

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