Tensions are rising over the continued absence of the Lebanese Prime Minister from Lebanon:
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia had detained Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the first time he had said so publicly, and called it an act of aggression against Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia’s heavy-handed interference in Lebanon is just the most recent in a series of clumsy attempts to intimidate and bully other countries in the region. The campaign against Qatar that began earlier this year was a crude attempt to force their neighbor into abandoning its relatively independent foreign policy, and it predictably failed and inspired Qatar to be even less willing to fall in line. Two and a half years of cruelly pummeling and starving Yemen have created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, but the war has brought the coalition no closer to its goal of subduing that country and installing their preferred puppet government. Snatching Hariri has likewise blown up in their faces.
We are seeing a pattern of destabilizing, destructive behavior from the Saudis in the last few years that confirms that the kingdom is a regional menace and a threat to peace and stability. The U.S. has enabled or encouraged much of this behavior, and as long as the Saudis believe that they can act without suffering damage to the relationship with Washington they will likely continue to create new crises and headaches. It is long past time that the U.S. downgraded its noxious relationship with Riyadh for the sake of our interests and for the sake of the entire region.