Beirut in the 60’s THE PARIS OF THE EAST
As I look at the makeup of the Middle East and the importance of Lebanon, in the current struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, I was reflecting on how Lebanon became the” whipping boy” for the terrorist groups.
This started back in the 60’s and progressed in the 70’s with the expansion of the PLO in Southern Lebanon. Lebanon was a Christian population for the most part and as the PLO started attacking Israel to force a home land the Arab nations around them didn’t want them based out of their countries. Lebanon was chosen to push the PLO into as they didn’t have a strong military and was unable to stop the influx of the PLO and the camps they established.
As the PLO started shelling Israel from the South of Lebanon of course Israel struck back with Lebanon taking punishment from the PLO actions. At the same time the PLO was attacking and forcing the Christians who were the majority in the south of Lebanon to flee or be killed. The Lebanon which had been called the Paris of the Middle East was headed for civil war which continues today with different players.
As the PLO disappeared it was replaced with Hezbollah backed by Iran which is more powerful and dangerous then the PLO. Iran has a bigger plan to use Hezbollah to attack and in their plan destroy Israel. So Lebanon still lies at the center of the conflict with Hezbollah a part of the government and Syria to the north and Hezbollah supporting the government in Syria.
Lebanon’s situation has worsened by Saudi Arabia with drawing military and financial assistance due to the concern that the equipment they pay for would wind up with Hezbollah. What is ahead?
Lebanon caught in Saudi-Iranian political crossfire.
The decision of the Gulf Arab states to get tougher with Hezbollah threatens to re-ignite a new round of conflict
Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and the Iran-backed Hezbollah have become the centre of international attention
On March 2, the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, of which Saudi Arabia is a member, designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization, driving a deeper wedge between the Sunni countries and the Shi’ite movement that has long been an instrument of Iran.
Just days ago, the Saudis and some of their friends from the Gulf States urged their citizens not to travel to Lebanon.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) declared such trips “illegal” and downgraded its diplomatic mission to the country.
The latest move from the Saudis and their friends stemmed from the fallout of the Syrian conflict that has pitted Saudi Arabia against Iran, Hezbollah’s chief patron.
As for Saudi Arabia’s past “flexibility” towards the situation in Lebanon, the approach enabled Riyadh to mediate and broker the1989 Taif Agreement that paved the way to end the bloody Lebanese Civil War.
Today, it appears that the Saudis favor confrontation over accommodation as backchannel deals and discreet negotiation make way for microphone and check book diplomacy. The big concern is the Saudi cash and military help will end up in the hands of Hezbollah and build Iran’s influence even more.
Hezbollah by force has weaved its way into the Lebanese government and due to their backing from Iran they wield power over what happens and their actions in Syria are not necessarily good for Lebanon. But because of the power it wields, politically and as an armed entity, political groups in Lebanon will have to continue to engage the Shi’ite outfit to prevent further strife.
All of this led to closer ties with Saudi Arabia and Turkey by both having the same end game in Syria, the removal of Bashar Assad. They want to see a Sunni led government with ties to them and they want to break the hold Iran has on Syria.
Turkey has made overtures to Israel to try and reestablish better relations but Israel is not anxious to come to Turkeys aid with the past years of Turkey conduct toward Israel
Oddly enough, the Turkish president finds himself in a position analogous to Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, who is at war with the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement which enjoys Obama’s support.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has his own dilemmas. Struggling to keep his balance while walking a tight rope on the Syrian situation between Israel’s longstanding ties with Washington and handling the Russian tiger lurking next door, he is in no hurry to welcome Erdogan’s determined overtures for the resumption of normal relations.
Turkey is in trouble with both major world powers and, after living for five years under hostile abuse from Ankara, Israel does not owe Erdogan a helping hand for pulling him out of the mess.
Things change swiftly on the world stage and the American presidential race has stirred up comments from many on the world’s stage as to what a new president might mean for them.
A lot to watch and pay attention to. Turkey and Saudi Arabia will be the ones to watch as the days unfold.
Until next time be safe: Phil