Saad Hariri’s resignation as prime minister of Lebanon and his denunciation of Iran and its client, Hezbollah, for coming “to control the seams of the state and has the final and decisive say in the affairs of Lebanon and the Lebanese,” was an acknowledgment that “Lebanon is an Iranian satrapy run by Hezbollah,” an expert on Lebanon wrote Wednesday in Tablet magazine.
In his speech, Hariri described how “Hezbollah has turned Lebanon into a launching pad for military interventions and terrorist activities,” Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, observed. Lebanon’s hijacking by Hezbollah has led to its being ostracized and sanctioned. Badran pointed out that Hezbollah has solidified its control over Lebanon since Hariri accepted the role of prime minister last year in a Hezbollah-dominated government “winning key appointments in the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), the intelligence and security agencies, the judiciary and state administrative offices.” Hariri’s role in the government was to “provide Hezbollah with cover,” and lobby the United States to continue supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), even though the army was “working hand-in-glove with Hezbollah and Iran.”
Hariri’s denunciation of Hezbollah and Iran vindicates Israel’s view, that now Lebanon and Hezbollah, as expressed recently by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, must be viewed as one and the same. Furthermore, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out that Hariri’s resignation should be viewed as a “wake-up call” and that Iran was seeking to control Syria much as it now controls Lebanon.
While Hariri’s resignation signaled Saudi Arabia’s intent to challenge Iran’s regional aggression, Badran assessed that the Saudis had little leverage to affect Lebanon’s internal politics, aside from imposing “painful punitive financial and economic measures” against Lebanon.
If nothing else, Hariri’s resignation should signal to the United States that strengthening the LAF or Lebanon will not weaken Hezbollah because, as Badran observed, “strengthening a state controlled by Hezbollah strengthens Hezbollah. Without the “fig leaf” of Hariri in Lebanon’s government anymore, “should warrant a suspension of US aid to the LAF.”