The decline of Saudi policy in Lebanon and its repercussions constituted a rich material for the Carnegie Center for International Studies, which elaborated on the repercussions of the defeat.
At the beginning of a recently published report, the center asks, “Why does Riyadh give up all its cards in Lebanon? Is it not logical to maintain alliances there and create means of pressure on Hezbollah and Tehran when necessary?”, as he put it.
The center believes that “the reason for the Saudi concession is that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman does not have any political experience as in the previous generation of Saudi leaders, and this is something certain,” adding that “Bin Salman has become sensitive to the use of force and is ready to enter into a dialogue with Iran.” .
The center continues, “The other reason is Ibn Salman’s arrest of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, especially since this arrest was a humiliating matter and proved that he could be dispensed with, and prompted his opponents to make sure that he lost his regional sponsor and became very weak in front of them.” He said: “He lost the Sunnis in Lebanon a lot.
He added that the Saudis have lost all confidence in Hariri (their main Lebanese ally), noting that “he was very disappointed, both at the political level and in his commercial affairs, and that personalizing his relationship with Riyadh is not a good idea.”
Pointing out that “the Saudis have many ways to deal with and direct the Sunnis without going through Hariri,” he says: “Suppose they have to work with him, so what? Why do they deprive themselves of this line?”
The Center states that Hariri’s mistake in the past may have been his failure to mobilize societal support to strengthen his policy, as his efforts in recent years have focused only on securing his political survival, especially after the devastating consequences of the fall of his company, “Saudi Oger”… Hariri has failed on all fronts.
He added, “Hariri may not be to the taste of the Saudis, nor to the taste of all Lebanese Sunnis, but they must certainly realize that when he is marginalized politically, their society will be affected by that.”
The center noted that “the Saudis’ arrest of Hariri in November 2017 was not only humiliating, but also politically incomprehensible,” and said, “Once it was proven that Hariri could be dispensed with, his local political opponents—Aoun and Bassil on the one hand, and Hezbollah on the one hand—considered him.” Another – a dead man walking, especially since he lost his regional patron and became weak, which gave them more influence over him.” He added: “The Sunnis lost a lot as a result of what happened, and so did Saudi Arabia.”
The center also pointed out that “the Saudi refusal to deal with Lebanon prompted other Gulf countries to boycott, which was very devastating to the Lebanese economy, not least its agricultural sector,” asking: “What is the goal of this, other than increasing the suffering of the Lebanese?”
The center’s report concludes that “if the Saudis want to strengthen the Lebanese forces that reject Hezbollah’s policies, targeting everyone indiscriminately is not the appropriate way to do so.”
LebanonSaudi ArabiaSa’ad Al Hariri