Lebanon's former prime minister Saad Hariri.
(photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)
With Saad Hariri’s shocking resignation as prime minister of Lebanon on Saturday evening, Israel’s northern border has become even more unstable, but the Jewish state has more leeway should a full-blown war with Lebanon break out.
Hariri made the announcement that he was leaving his post from the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, citing Iran’s grip on his country and his fear that he would share the same fate as his father, former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was murdered by a car bomb in 2005 which was blamed on Syria and Hezbollah.
While Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces later issued a statement distancing itself from unconfirmed reports about the alleged plot, Hariri, who spoke on Saudi’s Al-Arabiya television network, said he was “living in an atmosphere similar to the one that preceded the assassination of the martyr Rafik Hariri.”
Hezbollah was formed in the 1980s, with the help of Iran, as a resistance group against the Israeli military presence in southern Lebanon. Now, Hezbollah is deeply embedded in Lebanese politics and society, with thousands of Lebanese Shia relying on the group for social, medical and financial support.
The world’s preeminent terror group has also morphed from a terror cell into quasi-army, with a massive arsenal of advanced weaponry given to them by their Iranian patrons and thousands of battle-hardened fighters spread across the Middle East.
Hezbollah is Israel’s most dangerous enemy.
On Sunday, Yoav Gallant, a member of the security cabinet and former IDF general, told The Israel Project that Hariri’s resignation should be a wake up call for the international community.
“Iran controls actually Lebanon, Iraq and is working very hard to take over Syria. This is a great danger to the stability of the region and the peace of the world. Hariri understands very well that after the massacre that is taking place in Syria, he might be next in line, as it happened to his father Rafik al-Hariri, and he is saying it in his own words.”
Following Hariri’s resignation, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took to Twitter, saying that “Lebanon=Hezbollah. Hezbollah=Iran. Lebanon=Iran. Iran is dangerous to the world. Saad Hariri has proved that today. Period.”
Last month, Liberman bemoaned the "reality" in the region, saying, "The Lebanese army has lost its independence and has become an integral part of Hezbollah’s network.”
Hariri, a Sunni Muslim who formed a government last year, accused Shiite Tehran of "creating a state within the state... to the extent that it gets the final say on how Lebanon's affairs are run.”
And it does seem that way. Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, is an ally of Hezbollah and believed to have been an appointment by Iran. The Lebanese army, despite the aid it received from the West (including two A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft from the US last week), has far fewer weapons than Hezbollah and is cooperating with the terror group.
In his resignation speech on Saturday, Hariri also accused Hezbollah of using “the power of its weapons to impose a fait accompli,” stating that "Hezbollah is Iran's arm not just in Lebanon but in other Arab countries, too."
Hariri also accused Iran of “spreading destruction and strife where it is” and that it has “a grip on the fate of the region’s countries.”
In a in mid-October interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica
, Hariri spoke of Iran’s meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries, calling it “absolutely unacceptable,” stating that Iran should play a positive role that will help in economic development and security and not contribute to destabilization.”
In the same interview, Hariri said he had joined a coalition government with Hezbollah, "putting aside" their differences to serve and unite the country. Now, it seems that Hariri has given Israel more legitimacy for a full-scale and uncompromising campaign against Iran and Lebanon, not only Hezbollah, should a war in the north break out.
And should that war break out, as Gallant said, Israel “will bring Lebanon back to the stone age.”