Analyst: Saudis set to surrender Lebanon to Iran

Friday, January 28, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

ABU DHABI Saudi Arabia has concluded that Iran would soon take over Lebanon, a leading Gulf analyst said.

A Kuwaiti security consultant, with links to several Gulf Cooperation Council states, asserted that Saudi Arabia decided to withdraw support from outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The consultant, Sami Al Faraj, said Riyad has assessed that Iran would succeed in taking over the Beirut government as well as the rest of Lebanon through its Hizbullah militia, Middle East Newsline reported.

"My prediction is that Lebanon could either split or slip completely into Hizbullah's control," Al Faraj, director of the Kuwait-based Center for Strategic Studies, said. "Qatar and Saudi Arabia, probably, realized this and decided to pull out of the negotiations to end the Lebanese political imbroglio."

This month, Saudi officials said Riyad had withdrawn from efforts to arrange a reconciliation between Hizbullah and the pro-Western Hariri government. Within a week, Hizbullah pulled out of the government, causing it to collapse, and won parliamentary support for a pro-Syrian tycoon to replace Hariri.

Al Faraj, speaking during a visit to Qatar, said a Hizbullah-led government would mean an Iranian takeover of Lebanon. He said Hizbullah could either control the entire country or the southern portion from the Israeli border until Beirut.

A Hizbullah takeover of Lebanon could spark Israeli intervention. Al Faraj said this would mark the worst scenario and could result in a regional war.

Al Faraj said the "best option" would prompt Turkey, a Sunni state, to stop the radicalization of Lebanon. But he said this would also marginalize Arab influence in the Levant state.

"But either of the situations that emerges would paint Arabs in a bad light as it would show that they are weak," Al Faraj said in a briefing on Jan. 24.

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