Prime Minister Saad Hariri took his country by storm on Nov. 4 when he announced his resignation as head of the Lebanese government, blaming his decision on Iranian interference in his country’s affairs. Hariri’s statement, given from Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, underlines the Saudi decision to ramp up confrontation with its regional nemesis Iran and possibly to introduce a new deal in Lebanon.
Hariri issued a strong condemnation of Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah: the Shiite militia and political party that is part of the 30-member national unity cabinet he previously led. Lebanon is governed by a sectarian political system, divided between a coalition aligned with Shiite Hezbollah and Iran, another siding with Saudi Arabia, and a third with Arab and Western countries.
Since 2016, Lebanon’s rival blocs have essentially agreed to put their disagreements aside and join forces in a unity government. Hezbollah, which fought the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon until the year 2000, is currently the strongest Lebanese faction because of its powerful militia, and has served since 2013 as an Iran’s expeditionary force in Syria.
“Wherever Iran settles, it sows discord, devastation and destruction, proven by its interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries,” Mr. Hariri said, adding that Iran’s “hands” in the region “will be cut off”.
Despite a more conciliatory approach upon his return to Beirut, where Hariri’ stated “our relations with our Arab brothers should be the basis and we must seek all the means to enable Lebanon to have a real disassociation policy, not just in words but also in deeds,” , the Lebanese PM clouds with uncertainty the golden phase enjoyed by Hezbollah since the election in 2016 of its long-time political ally Michel Aoun as president. This golden period allowed Hezbollah to assuage its dominance over various sectors of the Lebanese state. This paper looks into Hezbollah’s assertion of power in Lebanon and the dilemma faced by the land of the cedars toward the militant group, one that in light of recent events could threaten the fabric of the country.