Will Lebanon be the first target? - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

Will Lebanon be the first target?

The world’s eyes are currently on Saudi Arabia. Everyone is trying to understand what is happening behind the scenes of the operations Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman launched under the title of “anti-corruption.” Numerous Saudi princes were arrested in the operations. One prince losing his life in a questionable helicopter accident and another dying in a clash with the security forces that came to arrest him is raising the curiosity index. 

At the end of the operations, Prince Salman gained control over units affiliated with the “National Guards,” the military and the interior ministry, which are parts of the power division in the country. The claim that the ballistic missile which was launched from Yemen to Saudi Arabia, but was stated to be neutralized while in the air, belongs to Iran, further deepened tensions. 

In addition to all this, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri declaring his resignation in Riyadh caused further confusion. Hariri's resignation coming 24 hours after Iran's religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei's chief adviser Ali Akbar Velayati’s visit to Lebanon was striking. Stating that his life was in danger, Hariri blamed Iran and Hezbollah.

Back during former U.S. President Barack Obama's tenure, Saudi-U.S. relations had soured because of the "Iranian nuclear agreement." U.S. President Donald Trump visited Riyadh in May and made billions of dollars’ worth of arms agreements with a splendid ceremony. Trump, who supported the embargo imposed on Qatar, delighted Riyadh when he sent the "Iranian nuclear agreement to Congress last month to be renegotiated.

Prince Salman's announcement of the "shift to moderate Islam" was also received well in the U.S. Steve Bannon, executive chairman of Breibart News, and ally of the pro-Benjamin Netanyahu Israel lobby, praising the announcement, resembling it to the Christian reform, gives clues to the behind-the-scenes developments in Riyadh. Bannon, an ideologist of the far right, was Trump's White House chief strategist. Bannon, who was fired in August by "globalist" generals, had waged war against Trump's opponents in the Republican Party.

Abu Dhabi Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed al Nahyan (MBZ) and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) are very close friends. Bannon's ally, private security company Blackwater's former CEO Eric Prince and MBZ are thick as thieves. Prince manages the Hong Kong-based company, Frontier Services Group. According to claims in Western media, Prince, in early January brought together MBZ and certain figures from the Russian government in Seychelles. It is said that this meeting, which was kept secret, was held to support Riyadh's regional policies. Bannon who went to Dubai in September, after leaving the White House, and met with Prince Zayed, supports the policy the UAE and Riyadh are applying against Qatar and Iran.

One other development was the CIA's announcement of the documents obtained in the U.S. operation conducted against Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011. These documents apparently show that al-Qaida was backed by Iran. In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir defended that Iran has been supporting al-Qaida since the 1990s, saying that sanctions should be imposed on Tehran.

On a different note, it has been revealed that Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner visited Riyadh ahead of the corruption operation and held a meeting with MBS. In his article in The Washington Post, David Ignatius defended that the meeting concerned the strategic planning of operations. When we put all this information together, it becomes clear that a new game, involving the U.S. and Israel is being set up in the region. It is highly likely that the first curtain of this dirty game is going to be staged in Lebanon, which is stuck between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel.


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