The government of Saudi Arabia has ordered its citizens living in Lebanon out of the country amid rising tensions and fears of a new war in the Middle East.
The order came after the Saudi government stepped up condemnation of Iran-backed Hezbollah, the most powerful political and military force in Lebanon, claiming that the Lebanese government had declared war on the kingdom.
Analysts say that a new war in Lebanon isn’t likely immediately because the Saudis are not capable of waging one and Israel does not want a war at this time.
Still, it’s clear that the rising tensions in the region could certainly spill over into other parts of the Middle East where fighting is underway, such as Syria.
“There are so many fuses, so little communication, so many risks of something exploding, that there’s little chance of something not going wrong,” noted Robert Malley, the former director of Middle East policy in the Obama White House and now vice president for policy at the International Crisis Group. “Everything needs to go right to maintain calm.”
Analyst comment: The order follows a pair of major events last week: 1) After a missile fired from Yemen at the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the Kingdom blamed Iran and Hezbollah, declaring that it amounted to a declaration of war by Lebanon; 2) The Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, unexpectedly flew to Riyadh and declared his resignation there, leading some to believe the Saudis pressured him to so do. Still, the Saudis are overextended in Yemen, a war in which they launched two years ago. But the Obama analyst is correct: So many fuses…
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