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.”
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.
Lebanese politics are regulated by a complicate agreement. The Sunni camp, financed by the Saudis, holds the position of Prime Minister. The position of the President is held by the Christian former general Michel Aoun. The position of Speaker of the Parliament is held by the leader of the Shia Amal movement Nabih Berri. Two month ago Berri had proposed elections to a new parliament before the end of the year. An election would likely diminish the Sunni position.
Saad Al-Hariri was put into the prime minister position after a long quarrel in Lebanon that had reignited when Saad’s father Rafic Hariri, the former PM, was assassinated. Hizbullah was accused of that assassination but an Israeli plot seemed more likely.
The Hariri family made its money as owner of Saudi Oger, a construction company in Saudi Arabia. The Hariris have Saudi passports. Business has gone bad under Hariri junior. In July Saudi Oger closed shop and the former billionaire family is rumored to be bankrupt. The Saudi rulers sponsors them.
Hariri had recently assigned a Lebanese ambassador to Syria. Yesterday Hariri was visited in Beirut by Ali Velayati, a top advisor of the supreme leader Khamenei of Iran. The Saudis did not like either. Thamer’s plan was set into motion. They sent a private jet and hauled Hariri to Riyadh. There the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman gave Hariri his resignation statement (written by Thamer?) to be read by him on Saudi TV.
Irony alert: The Lebanese PM (with a Saudi passport) resigns on order of Saudi Arabia, in Saudi Arabia, on Saudi Arabian TV. In his Saudi written resignation statement (excerpts) he accuses Iran of foreign meddling in Lebanese politics.
(Hariri also suddenly claims that there was an assassination planned against him in Lebanon. This is nonsense. The Lebanese internal security organization says it has no knowledge of such a plot. Hariri needs an excuse to stay away from Lebanon and from the wrath of his followers. Saudi media are trying to create some fantastic story from that assassination claim. But there is nothing evident to back it up.)
The resignation of Hariri is intended to provoke a constitutional crisis in Lebanon and to prevent new parliament elections. The further Saudi plan is likely to evolve around these elements:
- The Trump administration will announce new sanctions against Hizbullah and against Lebanon in general.
- The Saudi government will slip some of its al-Qaeda/ISIS proxy fighters from Syria and Iraq into Lebanon (possibly via Turkey by sea). It will finance local Lebanese terror operations.
- There will be new assassination attempts, terror attacks and general rioting by Sunni extremist elements against Christians and Shia in Lebanon.
- The U.S. will try to press the Lebanese army into a war against Hizbullah.
- Israel will try to provoke and divert Hizbullah’s attention by new shenanigans at the Lebanese and Syrian border. It will NOT start a war.
The plan is unlikely to succeed:
- The Lebanese people as a whole have no interest in a new civil war.
- The Lebanese army will not get involved on any specific side but will try to keep everyone calm.
- Sanctions against Hizbullah will hit all of Lebanon, including Sunni interests.
- A new Sunni prime minister will be found and installed, replacing the resigned Saudi puppet.
- Russian and Iranian economic interests will find a new market in Lebanon. Russian companies will engage in Lebanese gas and oil extraction in the Mediterranean and replace U.S. involvement.
The miscalculated Saudi/U.S./Israeli plan against Hizbullah can be understood as a helpless tantrum after their defeat in Syria and Iraq.
Iraqi troops have, against strong U.S. protest, cleared ISIS from border areas with Syria. Some Iraqi militia have crossed the border and are helping Syrian troops to take the last ISIS controlled settlement of Abu Kamal. This will finally open a direct road from Syria to Iraq and beyond. The U.S. had planned to take Abu Kamal with its Kurdish/Arab proxy forces in the area and to block that line of communication. The Syrian government forces are racing against that. For the fourth day in a row Russian Tu-22M3s long range bombers have supported the fight with large raids flown directly from Russia. Hizbullah re-injected thousands of its fighters. This massive force will overwhelm ISIS defenses. Syria will win the race and the fight.
The Saudi sponsored Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been suffocated and its existence has ended. Some elements of it will continue as a desert terrorist group – nasty but with little overall effect.
Iraq has regained its national sovereignty. It defeated ISIS, the Kurdish encroachment on Arab territory and all attempts to reignite a civil war. The fighting in Syria against al-Qaeda, as well as Turkish, Israeli and U.S. interference, will continue for another year. But it is very likely that the strong alliance of Syria, Iran, Russia and Hizbullah will win this fight. Syria is damaged but will survive as a whole and independent country.
The now launched war on Hizbullah and thereby Lebanon will likely have a similar outcome.
In their manic attempts to push back against perceived Iranian (and Russian) influence the Saudis and the U.S. have enabled Iran (and Russia) to gain better and more secure standing that they could ever have hoped to achieve otherwise. Why the Saudis think that their new adventure in Lebanon will have a different result is beyond me.
Posted by b on November 4, 2017