November 7, 2017


Is Lebanon caught in a Saudi-Iran regional power play? (Linah Alsaafin & Farah Najjar, 11/07/17, Al Jazeera)

Hariri's business and political links to Saudi Arabia stretch back to his father, Rafik Hariri, a business tycoon and former prime minister who was assassinated in 2005, a year after resigning his premiership.

"Saad Hariri inherited his father's business across the kingdom, including partnerships and financial ties with some of the princes included in the purge," said Ibrahim Halawi, a lecturer in contemporary Middle East politics at the Royal Holloway University in London.

The government in Riyadh wanted to "kill two birds with one stone", Halawi told Al Jazeera - consolidating power locally, "which required moving Hariri to Riyadh and taking over his assets ... [and] simultaneously attempting to shake Hezbollah's comfortable seat in Hariri's 'unity government'."

Hariri's prime ministership lasted barely a year after a prolonged political deadlock left Lebanon without a president and parliament for 11 months.

The government was an unusual national unity coalition of pro- and anti-Syria government parties, including Hezbollah and Hariri's Future Movement.

But this underscored for Saudi Arabia the dangers of a coalition composed of parties with opposing interests, particularly when Hezbollah appeared to hold the most sway. 

Yemeni President Hadi 'under house arrest' in Riyadh (Al Jazeera, 11/07/17)

Saudi Arabia has barred Yemen's president, along with his sons, ministers and military officials, from returning home for months, Yemeni officials told The Associated Press.

The officials said the ban was prompted by enmity between President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels and has come to dominate southern Yemen, the portion of the country not under rebel control. [...]

Hadi's inability to get back to southern Yemen underscores the president's loss of authority - even in the south that is nominally under his administration.

Since Hadi left Yemen in February, he has repeatedly sent written requests to Saudi King Salman asking to return. None were processed, said a Yemeni security commander.

In August, Hadi even went to Riyadh airport, planning to return to his temporary capital, Aden, in southern Yemen - but he was turned back from the airport, the commander said.

Two other Yemeni officials confirmed that Hadi, his sons and several ministers with him in Riyadh have been prevented from going to Yemen. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the situation.

"The Saudis have imposed a form of house arrest on them," the commander said. "When Hadi asks to go, they respond it's not safe for him to return as there are plotters who want to take his life and Saudis fear for his life."

Posted by at November 7, 2017 6:41 AM