If King Salman of Saudi Arabia was trying to re-ignite a dangerous confrontation by blocking $4 billion promised to the Lebanese army and police, then he has certainly achieved his goal.
Lebanon, with the Syrian Civil War raging at its gates for five years, is once again plunged into a devastating political crisis with unforeseeable consequences. This comes just as opposing parties reached an initial agreement on the appointment of the new head of state (pending since 2014), a resounding reconciliation after 30 years between the two Christian leaders Michel Aoun and Samir Geagea.
Riyadh announced its decision last Friday in response to Lebanon holding the Iranian line on foreign policy. Since then, the anti-Syrian government and pro-Western “March 14 Alliance,” led by former Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and the “March 8 Alliance,” which supports Damascus and is controlled by the Shiite movement Hezbollah, have returned to exchange harsh accusations.
Further undermining precarious government stability, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi resigned on Sunday. The Hariri man, close to the Saudis, said he could not “be part of a government dominated by Hezbollah.” He added that the foreign policy of Lebanon is not adhering “to the Arab consensus” (against Iran) established by the last Arab League summit, and he urged other ministers to resign.