The Saudis are ‘drawing lines in the sand’ — and showing they are serious about confronting Iran
Saudi Arabia warned its citizens against traveling to Lebanon on Tuesday after one of its biggest allies, the United Arab Emirates, banned travel to Lebanon altogether.
The move, which followed the Kingdom’s decision last week to halt $4 billion in funding forLebanese security forces, shows that the Saudis “appear to have had enough,” said Tony Badran, a researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies specializing in the military and political affairs of the Levant.
“Saudi Arabia is signaling that they’re not going to bankroll an effective Iranian satrapy that’s actively aligned against them,” Badran told Business Insider on Tuesday.
That satrapy is Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant organization sending fighters to Syria to support Iran-backed Shi’ite militias battling Saudi-backed Sunni rebel groups that oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad. One of Hezbollah’s staunchest allies is the right-wing Christian Free Patriotic Movement, headed by Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil.
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran earlier this year, after the Saudi embassy in Tehran was attacked by protestors decrying Riyadh’s decision to execute a prominent Shi’ite cleric.
Lebanon has long had a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia, but Bassil apparently took Iran’s side in the most recent spat between Tehran and Riyadh.
Elie Fawaz, writing for theLebanese news outlet NOW, notes that the Saudis have withdrawn aid because of how state institutions are, “one way or another, support[ing] Hezbollah’s military effort in Syria.”
The Saudis, then, are now “showing their seriousness about confronting Iran” and warningLebanon that they won’t underwrite an Iranian vassal, Badran said.
“The talk is that the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] might take tough action against Hezbollah’s allies, especially the Christian ones, who support
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