The 2017 Lebanon Saudi Arabia dispute began when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri abruptly announced his resignation from Saudi Arabia on 4 November 2017. Shortly thereafter, the foreign relations between both countries and allied regional neighbors have become increasingly strained. On 6 November 2017, Saudi Arabia claimed Lebanon declared war between the two states, despite leaders of Lebanon stating otherwise. On 9 November 2017, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates requested their citizens to leave Lebanon. The conflict is thought to be part of the larger Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict. In 1989, Saudi Arabia along with the United States helped mediate the end of the fifteen-year Lebanese Civil War through the Taif Agreement. The agreement left Hezbollah as Lebanon's only armed sectarian militia, due to its struggle against Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon. Following Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, calls grew for the disarmament of Hezbollah; however, the party resisted any such attempt. Following the assassination of Rafik Hariri  believed to have involved Hezbollah, after Hariri's call for Hezbollah's disarmament Saudi Arabia called for the immediate withdrawal of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.Saudi Arabia has opposed Hezbollah's influence in Lebanon, and its involvement in the Syrian Civil War, as they are seen to be strongly aligned with Iran.On 4 November 2017, in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia, Hariri tendered his resignation from office, citing Iran's and Hezbollah's political over-extension in the Middle East region and fears of assassination. Iran vehemently rejected Saad Hariri's remarks and called his resignation part of a plot by the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia to heighten Middle Eastern tensions. The Lebanese Army responded with a statement that intelligence in its possession in addition to ongoing arrests and investigations had not revealed “the presence of any plan for assassinations in the country.Several Iran-leaning and Shia-aligned Lebanese groups, including Hezbollah, accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage; Hariri's associates and Saudi officials have denied this. Several Lebanese commentators poked fun at the released pictures of Hariri in Saudi Arabia for their apparent similarity to those taken of hostages. The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, declared "the resignation of Hariri illegal and invalid." In November, it was announced that Hariri was on his way from Saudi Arabia to United Arab Emirates. Hariri's own party's media outlet reported that he would then move on to Bahrain and later back to Beirut, but both of these trips were subsequently cancelled and he was sent back to Riyadh.

Saad Hariri, the prime minister, who had previously shown no signs of planning to quit, unexpectedly flew to Saudi Arabia and announced his resignation from there, to the shock of his own close advisers. He has not been back since, and no one is sure when, or if, he is returning.Hours after Mr. Hariri’s announcement   televised Saturday on a Saudi-controlled channel   Saudi Arabia’s assertive new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, presided over the roundup of some 500 people, including 11 princes, on corruption charges.In a country where political analysis is a near-universal hobby, and where political power is   to oversimplify a bit   divided between Mr. Hariri’s Sunni, Saudi-backed party and the Shiite, Iran-backed Hezbollah, speculation was immediate that Mr. Hariri was also being held against his will. He holds dual Lebanese and Saudi citizenship and has extensive business dealings in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Ex Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri (L) meets  Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister. Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh.Israel tells its envoys to back Saudis, Hariri against Hezbollah, Iran.The events in Lebanon, and the ballistic missile launched by [Yemen’s rebel] Houthis toward the Riyadh international airport, should cause [the world] to increase the pressure on Iran and Hezbollah on a range of issues, from ballistic missile production to its efforts at regional subversion.

A vicious circle of increased sectarian sentiment, escalating violence and outside support has so far prevented any serious attempts to resolve the conflict between the warring factions in Syria. The regime and the opposition disavow each other as rivals in a competitive struggle, but regard one another as an existential enemy to be toppled or destroyed. Despite this qualified skepticism about transferring Lebanon's model to Syria, a comparison also discloses remarkable parallels. The two countries share some significant similarities in their socio-historical geneses and the politicization of their ethnic and confessional compositions. Furthermore, the dynamics of the violent escalation in Syria and the country's breakup into sectarian enclaves strongly resemble the events of Lebanon's civil war. The conflict in Syria threatens to deteriorate into a regional conflagration, given that violence has already spread into Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Both internal and external actors may conclude that a power-sharing deal is a reasonable solution, as "further escalation of the conflict will result in mutually damaging outcomes."This "self-negating prophecy" stands at the core of any agreement for consociational power sharing.Lebanon was regarded as an exemplary case of consociational power sharing, at least until the outbreak of civil war in 1975.6 Nevertheless, Lebanon's corporate consociationalism was too weak to prevent  if not partly responsible for — the outbreak of a civil war between militias increasingly mobilized along sectarian cleavages. Therefore, a reworked power-sharing model was introduced to end the civil war in 1989. Under Baathist rule, Syria pretended to deal with cultural pluralism by following a unitary nationalist approach, insisting that a neutral state should neither address ethnicity and religious affiliation nor grant any specific rights to communities, as this would strengthen subnational identities and weaken national unity. The Syrian government claimed to have defused the tensions of primordial antagonism, but  like Lebanon   clearly failed to do so for the long term. Rather, its critics allege that it even instigated and utilized sectarian tensions in order to discredit the opposition as "Sunni fundamentalists" and to rally the minorities around the ruling regime. Parts of the opposition likewise foment sectarian hatred against the "apostate" Alawite sect that dominates the relevant high ranks of the state and security apparatus and the minorities serving as their lackeys, if not their agents. The hostile demonizing of different communities' members as terrorists, apostates, traitors and foreign agents has gained a most destructive momentum in the ongoing conflict escalation, dehumanizing the counterpart as the "other."

Saad Hariri and his father former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a 2004 bomb blast that the Prime Minister blames on Damascus and Hezbollah.Both the Syrian government and Hezbollah have repeatedly denied involvement.Hariri has been a longtime critic of the Assad regime. In 2014, when he was still living in exile in France and Saudi Arabia, he blamed Assad for the 2005 car bomb assassination of his father. However, it’s the suspects in the assassination were tied to Hezbollah, a militant group that has seats in the Lebanon parliament and cabinet. Hezbollah also supports Assad.

This file photo shows the scene of a massive explosion in which former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri was killed in central Beirut, on February 14, 2005.Saad Hariri said Monday he stood firm against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's "crimes", at an event marking the anniversary of his father's assassination that he has blamed on Damascus.Hariri, whose father Rafiq Hariri was killed along with 22 other people in a February 15, 2005 bomb blast on the Beirut seafront, was appointed prime minister in November for a second time, under an arrangement struck with the pro-Syrian Shiite group Hezbollah.

Hariri is a member of the Hariri Lebanese political dynasty. His father, Rafik Hariri also served as prime minister twice and was assassinated in February 2005. Hariri’s father accumulated wealth as the owner of Saudi Oger Ltd., which is still wholly owned by the Hariri family and headquartered in Saudi Arabia.When Rafik Hariri was killed, Hariri not only inherited his father’s political role, but also his business. Hariri is still chairman of Saudi Oger and his younger brother, Ayman Hariri, is deputy CEO. Before he became a politician, Hariri also led the Oger subsidiary Oger Telecom.Hariri moved to the U.S. for college, attending Georgetown University. He graduated in 1992 with a degree from the McDonough School of Business. In 2009, Georgetown announced that Hariri made a $20 million donation to the university’s business school to name a new building after his father.The building was dedicated in September 2009, with younger brother Fahd Hariri in attendance.Hariri also created two new scholarship funds at the business school, the Hariri Family Graduate Scholarship and the Saad R. Hariri Undergraduate Scholarship.Hariri’s other activities in the U.S. include the Hariri Foundation-USA, which is based in Bethesda, Maryland. It was founded by his father and provides scholarships and opportunities for young Lebanese students in the U.S. One program covers full tuition for two years of graduate study at Boston University.

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