PM Hariri has announced that he will suspend his decision to resign until after his return to Lebanon, and his talks with President Michel Aoun, calming tensions in Lebanon.
In a country rife with political and religious divisions, Hariri’s controversial move united Sunnis, Shias and Christians, who all called for their prime minister’s return.
President Aoun, Hariri’s Future Movement, and speaker of the house Nabih Berry, called for his immediate return, as well.
“The Hariri crisis has shown that Lebanon is not willing to enter a new phase of open confrontation with Hezbollah, which had marked the 2008 period when clashes between Sunnis and Shias followed Hezbollah’s takeover of Beirut,” writes Mona Alami a non-resident fellow with the Atlantic council covering Middle East politics in her article for The New Arab.
The terms of Hariri’s return remain unclear. President Aoun, however, kicked off a series of bilateral consultations this week, with the country’s political parties, that will tackle the security situation, the dissociation policy, and ties with Arab states. Hariri himself emphasized the importance of “disassociation“ from regional power struggles and giving priority to Lebanon.
Chief commander Mohammad Ali Jafari from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards stated recently, “Hezbollah must be armed to fight against the enemy of the Lebanese nation which is Israel. Naturally they should have the best weapons to protect Lebanon’s security. This issue is non-negotiable.” It appears that disarming Lebanon’s Hizballah is out of the question.
Simultaneous to Jafari’s statement, Saudi Crown Prince Mohamad bin Salman called Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the “new Hitler of the Middle East”.
Recent events should be taken as a serious warning to the Lebanese political class. In an article published by the Hizballah affliliated publication, the daily, Al Akhbar, analyst Wafiq Qansouh, an expert on Israeli affairs brushed off the latest crisis, adding that “any talk of Hizballah’s weapons was mere cosmetics.”
“Hezbollah should nonetheless think twice,” writes Alami.
Although for now in Lebanon there has been a pause in regional escalation, it is foreseeable that the country might once again be drawn in.