U.S. President Donald Trump and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the White House, July 25, 2017.
Yuri Gripas / Reuters

The last time Lebanese leader Saad Hariri met with a U.S. president—in January 2011 with Barack Obama—he began the visit as prime minister and ended it as a private citizen. Just as Hariri began his summit with Obama, Hezbollah members and their allies resigned en masse from the unity government, leading to its collapse. Last week, Hariri—who regained the post of prime minister in December 2016 after agreeing to support the election of Hezbollah ally, General Michel Aoun, to the presidency—held talks with President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials in Washington. Hezbollah was once more busy back home. It launched a military offensive against Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, an al Qaeda affiliate previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra, in the hills of eastern Lebanon, and roundly defeated them. Hezbollah’s actions underscored the tensions in the Lebanese state’s coexistence with the group even as the

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  • PAUL SALEM is Vice President for Policy Analysis and Research at the Middle East Institute.
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