Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to marginalise the powerful Lebanese political movement and militant group Hizbollah.
It’s part of Saudi Arabia’s campaign against Hizbollah’s backer Iran. Lebanese civilians told news network Al Jazeera they fear the regional rivalry could tear their society apart.
Ahmed Tajeldin Abdullah said, “Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting for power, and I am afraid they will they use Lebanon as their battlefield.
“I can already see a war coming. I have a daughter who’s just 13 days old. I’m afraid for my children’s lives.”
Saudi Arabia led threats against Hizbollah and Iran at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Sunday.
Earlier last week Saudi foreign minister Adel el-Jubeir claimed that Hizbollah, which is part of the Lebanese coalition government, had “kidnapped the Lebanese system”.
He denounced Hizbollah as a “terrorist organisation used by Iran to destabilise Lebanon and the region”.
Saudi Arabia appeared to force Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri to resign earlier this month.
Hariri resigned with a surprise speech from Saudi capital Riyadh, denouncing Iran and Hizbollah, then disappeared for more than a week. Lebanese politicians accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage.
President Michel Aoun has refused to accept Hariri’s resignation unless he tenders it in person in Lebanon.
Hariri was set to finally return to Lebanon’s capital Beirut and confirm his resignation on Wednesday.
The crisis in Lebanon and the growing confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran are part of the fallout of the wars in Syria and Iraq.
Two blocs of rival powers are vying with each other for control of a region hollowed out by war.
Iran, Russia and Turkey were set to hold a joint summit on Syria in Russian city Sochi on Wednesday. Representatives of various groups opposed to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad were set to meet for a summit in Saudi Arabia on the same day.
Western allies Saudi Arabia and Israel are also working more closely together against Iran, despite Saudi Arabia’s official position of not negotiating with Israel.
Israeli minister Yuval Steinitz confirmed his government had “covert” contacts with Saudi Arabia to “help us stop Iran”.
Their tightening relationship is bad news for Palestinians.
Recent reports suggest the US wants the Palestinian Authority (PA) to accept a deal allowing Israel to annexe even more of the West Bank. Israel has occupied the Palestinian West Bank for 50 years.
The PA is said to have so far opposed this but it is reportedly under pressure from Saudi Arabia to accept the US’s demands.
A deal would allow Saudi Arabia to present its relationship with Israel as acceptable to other Arab states.
Palestinians, Lebanese, and ordinary people across the Middle East will suffer as the two states—backed by the US and Britain—drive towards yet another war.