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Shifting Sands in the Middle East: Lebanese PM Resigns

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri Resigns, Screen Capture

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resignation of Lebanon's prime minister "a wake-up call" for the world. Some see it as another sign of Iran's desire to dominate the Middle East.

Netanyahu spoke to the BBC after Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri's surprise resignation over fear of a possible assassination attempt.

"When Israelis and the Arabs, all the Arabs and the Israelis, agree on one thing, people should pay attention," Netanyahu told the BBC. "We should stop this Iranian take over."

Hariri announced his decision in a televised address from Saudi Arabia, a long-time U.S. ally spearheading the Arab world's campaign against Iran.

In the address, Hariri accused Iran of making a regional power grab, saying Iran's powerful Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, had taken over his country.

"The fact that Hariri said the truth about Iran and Hezbollah is very important," former Israeli national security advisor Maj. Gen. (res.) Ya'akov Amidror said.

Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, said it's "a clear reaction to the encouragement of Iran in the region."

Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, but has more than 100,000 rockets pointed at Israel. Thousands of its soldiers also fight for Iran's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Amidror called Hezbollah an "Iranian tool" in the Middle East.

"We have to admit, Lebanon is not a state," he told CBN News. "It's something, a unique creature, which is run by Hezbollah, and Hezbollah is run by Iran so at the end of the day it's an Iranian tool in the Middle East, not just against Israel, but in the Middle East."
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of pushing the prime minister to resign.

Hariri met with President Trump earlier this year and mentioned their partnership in fighting ISIS.

Following Hariri's resignation, Saudi Arabia said they had intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen at one of its international airports.

Saudi Arabia responded by launching airstrikes against the rebels and later warned Iran that the latest missile launch could be considered an "act of war."

Hariri has led Lebanon's coalition government for about a year.

"He's a Saudi citizen and he spent many of his years in Saudi Arabia, but he tried at least to work with Hezbollah," Amidror said. "He understood there is no way to work with Hezbollah – either you are completely under their influence or you don't have any right to exist."

Inbar says there's only one way to deal with Iran.

"Probably the only way to stop them is by [the] use of force," he said. "I think the [Lebanese] prime minister probably understands that the West has no intention whatsoever to get involved and maybe what he does is trying to gain legitimacy for Israeli unilateral actions."

Meanwhile, Israeli analysts believe the U.S. and the West probably won't take a stand against Iran and it may be up to Israel to take care of the problem.


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