The Nov. 6 headline in an article published in Al-Akhbar, one of Lebanon’s leading newspapers, consisted of a single word: Hostage. The front page featured a full-length photograph of the country’s resigned Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and right across it was a photograph of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a small frame. The message the pro-Hezbollah paper wanted to give was quite clear. Hariri was being held hostage in Riyadh by the Saudis.
As a matter of fact, Hariri, who suddenly announced his resignation last Saturday during his official visit to Riyadh, is yet to return to his country. This situation, which supports the view that he is being held hostage, has become even more puzzling with reports that Hariri is being held together with the Saudi princes and billionaires who were detained on the same day. It is known that Hariri, who held meetings with Saudi King Salman and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in the following days, is still in Riyadh.
During his resignation speech, Hariri stated his life was in danger and that he was afraid to be assassinated like his father Rafik Hariri who was killed in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005, and blamed Iran for dragging the region into instability and chaos. It is interesting that Hariri, who became prime minister last year with Hezbollah’s support and who accepted this position knowing very well Lebanon’s internal balances, is speaking like he only recently came to realize Iran’s regional activities. What’s more is that in a country like Lebanon, there was always the chance that he could face the same end as his father; he could not have “just” realized this. All these are factors strengthen Hezbollah’s claim that “Hariri was forced to resign by Saudi Arabia.”
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As a requirement of the political skeleton the French formed in the 1930s, in Lebanon, the president is elected from among Maronite Christians, prime minister from Sunni Muslims, and parliament chair from Shiite Muslims. This chaotic political structure in Lebanon, where no census was (or could be) held since 1932 to prevent the formed status quo formed dissolving, leaves the country vulnerable to foreign interventions. While Iran uses Hezbollah like a skeleton key, the Saudi’s Trojan horse on Lebanon’s stage is the Hariri family.
Saudi Arabia, which is making move after move with the direction and guidance from the U.S. to boost its regional presence, is faced with Iran, which intervenes in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen in order to increase its regional activities. When discussing the reasons behind the existing chaos in the region, the steps Iran takes for its own hegemony also need to be mentioned, not only those of the “U.S.’s puppet administrations.” Mentioning that the Saudi’s have intervened in the situation from outside, without pointing to the Hezbollah and Iran effect that has spread through the Lebanese state’s (military, bureaucracy, intelligence) capillary veins, would lead to an incomplete (and incorrect) interpretation of the situation.
If the vast Sunni segments in the Middle East that covered their homes and stores in the 2006s with Hassan Nasrallah posters have currently started to see the U.S. and Israel against Iran as the lesser of two evils, the reasons behind this need to be evaluated. “Sectarianism” is not the sole answer to the question. The civilians who died in Syria by the hand of the Iran-Russia-Hezbollah front, and the cities that have turned into ruins, are attributed to Iran as a black mark. If the region has psychologically prepared for a Western intervention against Iran and Hezbollah today, Iran must ask, “Where did we go wrong?” and stop competing with Saudi Arabia in making mistakes.
Presently, Yemen stands in front of the Muslim world as a wretched picture of this competition to make mistakes. From the cholera epidemic to famine, the people of Yemen are suffering the consequences of the thoughtless decisions made at the table by those fighting “in their own name.” Saudi Arabia, which bombed Yemen with U.S. weapons, is standing against Iran, which has armed Houthi militias with Russian weapons. When talking about the sin committed, the responsibility needs to be divided between both parties.
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Considering the region from Syria to Iraq and from Lebanon to Yemen, perhaps we need to use the term “hostage” to refer not only to Saad al-Hariri, but also for many political movements and actors in the Middle East. The current processes summarized as “proxy wars” points to a period in which hearts and consciences are numbed by countries that do not (cannot) fight directly against each other and therefore wreak havoc in satellite countries through their proxies, and when doing this, they enlist support from foreign actors, and the number of civilians who died has statistical value alone.
Actually, in this sense we are all hostage. Our region and their people are taken hostage both internally and externally. Attempts by states, governments and armed organizations, with no regard for conscience, enslave us all – our minds, consciences, words…
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In close relation to all this, let the purge process in Saudi Arabia be the topic of our next article. Because the picture has become quite clear; the pieces of the puzzle are mostly complete.