Saudi Arabia seeks to ratchet up pressure against Iran

Iran Accuses Saudi Arabia of Pushing for War
Saudi Arabia seeks to ratchet up pressure against Iran
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21 November, 2017

Lebanese president Michel Aoun, a Hizbollah ally, said Lebanon can not accept suggestions that its government is a partner in acts of terrorism.

"The Lebanese Republic, in spite of our relations with it as a brotherly Arab nation, is under the total control of this terrorist party", Bahrain's Sheikh Ahmed said, referring to Hizbollah.

"This morning, a decision was taken that Lebanon would be presented by Antoine Azzam, the permanent representative to the Arab League", the source said.

Commenting on the Bahraini foreign minister's statement, American University of Beirut professor Rami Khouri told CNN that "Hezbollah is certainly the single most powerful political group in Lebanon, where governance requires complex consensus building in which Hezbollah is clearly preeminent". Saudi Arabia has rallied its allies, including Bahrain, to isolate Iran diplomatically, but Tehran's role in fighting ISIS and its rapidly expanding sphere of influence has gained it allies, especially in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. Both have denied any involvement in the incident.

Hizbollah, which was formed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and still receives financial and militarily assistance from Tehran, fought Israel's occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s.

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Saudi Arabia subsequently expressed its anger at Hezbollah, which maintains close ties with Iran. He is now cooling his heels in Paris, a journey connived by Saudi and French administrations. Many Lebanese, including President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, have said they believe Hariri resigned under Saudi pressure.

It's not clear whether Sunday's Arab League meeting will translate into concrete action. It is, however, the first time the Arab League has taken such a strong public stand against Hezbollah.

Tensions have mounted between Saudi Arabia and Iran since November 4, when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a long-time Saudi ally, announced a surprise resignation, accusing Tehran and its allied Lebanese Hezbollah movement of destabilizing his and other Arab countries.

The Arab ministers Sunday called the firing of the missile an "aggression" against Saudi Arabia and a "threat to the Arab and worldwide security". It was the last major urban center in Syria held by the extremist group, which has retreated to strips of desert along the border with Iraq and neighborhoods near Damascus and in the country's south. The Syrian government, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, was replaced by the pro-rebel Syrian National Coalition in the Arab League in 2013, but the Syrian seat was again vacated in 2014.


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