Don’t Let the Saudis Destabilize Lebanon

Why Washington Should Restrain Riyadh

Saudi King Salman meets with former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Riyadh, November 2017. Reuters

Across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is attempting to push back against Iran. Now, after its defeat in Syria, struggles in Yemen, and mixed record in Iraq, Riyadh is set to make Lebanon the next front in its conflict with Tehran.  

Saudi Arabia’s target in Lebanon is Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite party with an old and deep alliance with Iran. Thanks to Tehran’s generous and consistent financial and military assistance, Hezbollah has transformed into a formidable regional power—one that in recent years has cemented its dominance over Lebanon’s national security decisionmaking, bolstered its deterrence against Israel, helped save the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and supported fellow Shiite militias in Bahrain, Iraq, and Yemen. 

The Saudis see Hezbollah’s control of politics in Beirut as untenable. That is why, in a clear departure from past policy, they have decided to confront Hezbollah more actively by holding

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