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Beirut’s Saudi Currents

Is Saudi Arabia backing Lebanon's opposition against Hizbullah in order to further isolate its rival for Gulf hegemony, Iran?
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/27/2011, 7:10 PM

Senior figures from the Saudi monarchy continue to meet with prominent Lebanese opposition figures as tensions in the Persian Gulf remain high.

Lebanese Forces (LF) party leader Samir Geagea ended an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday after meeting with high-ranking Saudi officials and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri.

The LF statement said he and former prime minister Hariri discussed “the situation in Lebanon from all angles as well as the regional developments given the current events.”

Both men are strident critics of Hizbullah and have said reconciliation talks in Lebanon can only proceed if material talks on the terror organization's arms and militias are undertaken.

Hariri has openly accused the terror group of using its 'third-party' arms to adversely affect Lebanon's politics and to undermine the sovereign will of the Lebanese people.

He has also backed the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which indicted four Hizbullah terrorists for the 2005 assassination of his father, former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

Geagea has echoed Hariri's claims and put Hizbullah on notice that it must disarm, saying it had used 'resistance' as a pretext to unilaterally draw Lebanon into "destructive wars" [with Israel -ed.]

Saudi officials have shown increasing support for Lebanese opposition figures as they continue to duel with Iran for hegemony in the Persian Gulf.

Riyadh and its Gulf allies have moved to isolate Iran by targeting its key allies, Hizbullah and the embattled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The increasingly unstable regime in Damascus currently finds itself under sanctions from both the West and Arab League - the latter agreeing to the move under intense pressure from Riyadh.

Should Assad's regime fall, Hizbullah, currently at dagger-points with the United States, would likely find itself facing a Riyadh – and Arab League – backed opposition movement.

Both the Saudi-educated Hariri and Maronite Geagea have adopted a pro-West, pro-Gulf Arab stance since Hariri's government was brought down by Hizbullah in January 2011.

An LF statement said Geagea met with a number of high-level officials, including Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdel-Aziz al-Saud, Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz and the head of the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate Prince Muqran bin Abdel-Aziz during his visit.

Hariri met with Saudi King Abdullah I “to discuss regional events” earlier this year.