Beirut (GPA) – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation over the weekend was announced from Saudi Arabia.
Following a meeting with Saudi officials this weekend, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri tendered his resignation citing concerns for his life. According to Hariri, he was afraid to remain in Lebanon any longer, saying he was afraid he would end up like his father who was assassinated in 2005.
But that wasn’t all the Saudi-born, US-educated, Riyadh-based businessman Hariri had to say. Sounding distinctly Saudi for the PM of Lebanon, Hariri also decided to use his resignation to spread lies about Lebanon, Hezbollah, and Iran that sound much like those of Riyadh, Tel Aviv, and Washington.
As Hariri put it, Iran is causing “devastation and chaos” throughout the Middle East and apparently “controls the region and the decision-making in both Syria and Iraq.”
It’s talk like this that builds on the latest “case against Iran” being built by the western powers and their lapdogs. Hariri’s resignation upon talking to his financial backers in Riyadh is only the latest in a series of ridiculous accusations being leveled at Tehran by the US and their allies in the Gulf.
This week also saw accusations by US media that Iran is funding the Sunni takfiris of al Qaeda despite the fact that Iran is currently aiding the paramilitaries fighting these Salafist militias in neighboring countries and even at home. If that wasn’t bad enough, late last month US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the same Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and members of the IRGC Quds Forces that are fighting Sunni extremists in Iraq to “go home.”
It’s in this framework that you can see how Hariri’s resignation is a deliberate move in a larger strategy to demonize Iran by all of the nation’s usual adversaries. This culminated in US President Donald Trump telling reporters over the weekend, that a missile fired at Riyadh from Yemen was somehow Iran’s fault (not to mention lying about the missile being intercepted by US-made missile defense systems in SA).
It’s fairly obvious that Hariri (a Sunni), after a meeting with the leaders of Iran’s chief rival (also Sunnis) decided to withdraw from the coalition government of Lebanon in order to make Hezbollah appear more isolated and continue trying to force nations to pick one side of the Tehran-Riyadh conflict.
This was obvious to everyone who watched Hariri’s press conference from Riyadh, including Iranian Foreign Ministry official Hossein Sheikholeslam who claimed “Hariri’s resignation was coordinated with US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman,” and was “aimed at creating tension in Lebanon and the region.” Sheikholeslam also stated that the “resignation was also meant to compensate the US for its failures after the defeat of the Daesh (ISIS),” and the successes of Hezbollah, the PMUs and the IRGC in Syria and Iraq.
Hariri also took aim at Israel’s biggest enemy in the region: Hezbollah, saying the political party and militia “has unfortunately managed to impose a fait accompli in Lebanon by the force of its weapons, which it alleges is a resistance weapon.” This is all despite the facts that those “resistance weapons” both expelled an Israeli occupation in southern Lebanon and have helped in crushing Salafi jihadists across the Middle East.
Never one to miss his cue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made several statements during a trip to London the day after Hariri resigned, saying the move should be “a wake-up call to the international community to take action against the Iranian aggression, which is turning Syria into a second Lebanon.” According to Netanyahu, Iran’s part in destroying the terrorist groups unleashed by US interventions in the Middle East and making the region safe for all people again is somehow “aggression” that “endangers not only Israel but the entire Middle East.”
Netanyahu later told journalists at Chatham House, a think tank in London, that “Iran is devouring one nation after the other…either by direct conquest or by using proxy.” According to Netanyahu, Iranian plans have already played out in both Lebanon (where Hezbollah has been continuously elected by Lebanese voters), and Yemen (where there has never been any hard evidence to prove Iranian support for the besieged Yemeni forces opposing Saudi Arabia) and Iranian influence is somehow “spreading” to Syria and Iraq (where Iranian backed forces were invited to help defeat Daesh).
My remarks on the resignation of Lebanese PM Hariri pic.twitter.com/f0skX3dpE8
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) November 4, 2017
If the subtext of Netanyahu’s statements was too subtle for you, the Israeli delegitimization campaign against Iran and Hezbollah were boiled down quite nicely by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman who just simply tweeted that “Lebanon=Hezbollah. Hezbollah=Iran. Lebanon=Iran,” and that “Iran is a danger to the world. Saad Hariri proved this today. Period.”
לבנון = חיזבאללה. חיזבאללה = איראן. לבנון = איראן. איראן מסוכנת לעולם. סעד חרירי הוכיח את זה היום. נקודה.
— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) November 4, 2017
Now obviously, Saudi Arabia and Israel have been repeating these lies about Iran for years, but now, with the US under the control of a regime that is equal parts gullible and bloodthirsty the case for “confronting” Iran is building momentum in Washington in ways that weren’t likely under Barack Obama. We are also in a new age of robust diplomatic and military relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel which both hold major sway over US politicians and are likely to offer anything the US feels they need in order to justify aggression against Tehran.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.