Facing defeat in its proxy war for “regime change” in Syria, Saudi Arabia undertook some startling moves, including staging the resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister, reports Dennis J Bernstein.
By Dennis J Bernstein
Last weekend during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri suddenly and dramatically resigned, raising questions about whether the Saudi leadership was engineering a political crisis in Lebanon as a way to counter the defeat of its jihadist proxies in Syria.
Given the timing and the unusual circumstances — from a fancy hotel in Riyadh — questions also were raised about whether Hariri’s resignation amounted to the kidnapping of the Lebanese leader (who has dual Saudi citizenship) or whether it presaged a new front in the regional wars.
I spoke with Beirut-based Professor, Activist and Environmental Scientist Rania Masri last Monday, while Hariri’s whereabouts and safety were still in question.
Dennis Bernstein: The prime minister of Lebanon has stepped down. Could you talk a little bit about what provoked that and the significance of that action?
Rania Masri: The prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, was called very suddenly to Saudi Arabia. He cancelled all his appointments and went on Thursday. [On] Saturday there was a taped broadcast in which he stated that he was resigning as prime minister. This has never happened in the history of Lebanon. This is a resignation submitted from outside the country!
Secondly, the statement that he read was clearly not a statement that he wrote. We know this because of linguistic assessments of the statement and we know this because his brother writes his statements and his brother has been in Lebanon. It is very clear that this was a resignation forced upon him by the Saudi government. He has not been answering his phone for the past few days. Most likely he is locked up in the Ritz Carlton Hotel along with dozens of other influential Saudi princes and businessmen who are under arrest there. The president has asked him to return to…