The Lebanese fault line
Material posted: Publication date: 12-03-2016
In the media there is information that Lebanon denied the special relationship with Saudi Arabia and under the pressure of Hezbollah sided with Russia and Iran. These rumors are exaggerated, although Riyadh and is doing everything possible for the loss of its own influence on the Country of the Cedars.

March coalition

Saudi-Iranian conflict continues to deepen and expand. The two sides have been fighting each other in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and it is possible that another front in this war will be Lebanon. In this country there are distinct Pro-Saudi forces in the face of the so-called March 14 Coalition, the most impressive group in which is the so-called "Movement of the Future" (al Mustaqbal) headed by Saad Hariri. They are opposed by the "March 8 Coalition", headed by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran - Hezbollah.

For a long time, these two groups seem to coexist in the framework of a political compromise. First, because Lebanon has experienced several years of civil war, and reps no one wanted. Secondly, none of the coalitions was not enough to win superiority over the other - both from the point of view of military resources, and from the point of view of political influence. Lebanon was clearly divided into fiefdoms, and coalitions have equal number of mandates in Parliament (68 versus 61). And the Syrian war was seen as a way to change the balance of power. Saad Hariri is actively supplying the Syrian rebels with weapons. Yes, technically still in 2012 between the parties was concluded on the so-called Baabda Declaration, proclaiming "the principle of distancing Lebanon from internal crises in Arab countries during the so-called "Arab spring"". However, Saad Hariri was supplying Syrian rebels with weapons in order to a) earn money on the transit and receive a portion of transfers and b) to cut off Hezbollah from Iran after the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad. In turn, Hezbollah fighters went to fight for the Syrian army in order not to allow letters to Saad Hariri to implement his plans. It is not surprising that the two opposition coalitions in Syria are periodically had an effect on the events in Lebanon. In particular, in the form of terrorist attacks, which were associated with a vengeance Hezbollah for its actions in Syria.

However, the worsening of Saudi-Iranian conflict has put Lebanon in the face of new, much more serious challenges. After the execution in KSA preacher Nimr al-Nimr and subsequent events Saudi Arabia has called on all its partners to decide whether it be with her or with Iran. And since Lebanon is determined not wanted (Minister for foreign Affairs of the Country of Cedars here and chose to remain neutral, refusing to sign a Declaration condemning Iran), Riyadh has taken action. For example, Saudi Arabia announced the termination of the assistance package of $ 4 billion to upgrade the Lebanese army, that were purchased in Europe, the weapons do not fall into the hands of Hezbollah. Then the Gulf countries has publicly recommended its citizens to refrain from visiting Lebanon, that, according to the Institute of the Middle East, would deprive the Country of the cedars of hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from tourism. Finally, to visit Lebanon. This means that the country this summer may lose hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from tourism. Finally, the cooperation Council of Persian Gulf countries has recognized Hezbollah as a terrorist organization because the group recruits recruits for acts of terrorism in territory of the countries-participants of the Council. It is not excluded that they will demand inclusion in "Jordan list" - the list operating in Syria of organizations recognized as terrorist countries-sponsors of the Geneva format.

Experts and analysts do not exclude that the Saudis can go even further towards punishment of Lebanon. For example, there will provoke civil strife, which at least will force Hezbollah to withdraw the troops from Syria to participate in hostilities in Lebanon.

It's time to make a choice

The Lebanese themselves feel perfectly these risks, so the ultimatum KSA has caused some friction between the two "March coalitions". Hezbollah is burning tires in front of the Embassy of the KSA and the office of "al-Mustaqbal", the Ministers criticizing Ministers, justice Minister Ashraf Rifi has resigned because of disagreement with the course of Hezbollah, and the Prime Minister to Tammam Salam threatens to follow his example in the event that if Hezbollah will not restore relations with Riyadh. But, on the other hand, everyone understands that reconciliation is impossible. The only way out - to take someone's side in the conflict, but so that with this choice agreed and Pro-Iranian and Pro-Saudi forces.

At first glance, a task no less difficult than to force Hezbollah to capitulate to Riyadh. However, taking into account Lebanese reality it is quite feasible. According to the famous Arabist Leonid Isaev, the Lebanese will be willing to make a choice, but only when they will become the obvious future of Assad. The geographical, military, economic, and ethnic reasons, the key to the survival of Lebanon's good relations with Syria. Accordingly, the authorities of the Country of the Cedars must be synchronized with the Syrian foreign-policy orientation, especially within the middle East bloc confrontation. If Syria Pro-Iranian (and it will remain so, as Bashar Assad likely will win in the civil war), Lebanon too must be such.

At first glance, letters to Saad Hariri makes no sense to betray their Saudi sponsors and agree with the focus on Iran. He financed the enemies of Iran; he has personal scores to the Syrians because of the death of the Pope (according to rumors, the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005 organized by the Syrian intelligence Agency); he was actively involved in supplying weapons and money to fighters in Syria (not forgetting, of course, to take a share of the small). But the fact is that Hariri and his people are still Lebanese movement. They are concerned primarily with their own survival. And if the regime in Damascus is maintained, while maintaining the orientation of the CSA for their survival - both political and physical - is compromised.

Interestingly, close to Hariri, Lebanese media already agree that their bit rate, and that Moscow's intervention guarantee the preservation of Assad, and therefore Iran's influence. Daily Star publicly acknowledges the fact that Moscow beat Washington in Syria. And "An-Nahar" said the possibility of negotiations between the Syrian opposition and Moscow, because "the Russians have no the blood of the Syrians" (serious dissonance with Newspapers of Gulf countries, which accuse Moscow of ethnic cleansing in Syria). Perhaps Sunni groups even Lebanon will be to seek Russian security guarantees in the service of their interests and preserving the status quo in Lebanon - the media again write that Russia is a) Sunni population and b) it does not promote "shiitization" Syria and Lebanon.

A symbol made by the Country of the Cedars of selection may be, for example, the election of Lebanon's new President, without which the country lives since may 2014. Yes, it's clear that all the state structure of Lebanon is just a sign showing a kind of political harmony in the society (not by accident by law the President must be a Christian, the Premier Sunni and the Parliament speaker is Sunni). However, if the President will, for example, the same Suleiman Frangie, which is loyal to Bashar al-Assad, it will be a signal that the "March 14 Movement" agreed with the victory of Hezbollah in the battle for the foreign policy of Lebanon and the victory of Assad in the Syrian civil war. Then it will be possible to speak about the transition of Lebanon to the camp of the winners to Baghdad four.

Gevorg Mirzayan


Tags: Iran , Syria , Saudi Arabia