Skip to main content

Iran Counters Saudi Diplomacy In Lebanon

The competition between the Saudi and Iranian axes in Lebanon is high as the alleged Saudi “openness” toward Hezbollah proved to be less than it appeared, writes Jean Aziz.
Lebanon Hezbollah parliament members Ali Ammar (C) and Sayyed Nasrat Kashakesh talk to the families of kidnapped Lebanese Shi'ite pilgrims, during a sit-in in Beirut's suburbs May 23, 2012.  The kidnap by Syrian gunmen of Lebanese Shi'ite pilgrims caused international allies and adversaries of President Bashar al-Assad to sound an alarm on Wednesday about a spread of sectarian violence across Syria's borders. REUTERS/ Jamal Saidi (LEBANON - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS CRIME LAW) - RTR32IXJ
Read in 

Three weeks of Lebanese developments were enough to remove the impression that a breakthrough in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran was near, at least in Lebanon. The impression was formed on April 6, when the Lebanese parliament designated, with near-consensus, Beirut deputy Tammam Salam to form the next cabinet.

At first, there were several signs that a breakthrough between Saudi Arabia and Iran was near. The Saudi ambassador in Beirut, Ali Awad Asiri, clearly showed openness toward Hezbollah. So much so that some said Saudi Arabia had started direct contacts with the most powerful Shiite organization in Lebanon by means of a Lebanese security official who is trusted by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah himself. There was even talk that Nasrallah’s deputy, Sheikh Naim Qassem, would be visiting Saudi Arabia at the head of a Hezbollah delegation with the mission to discuss bilateral relations between Beirut’s southern suburbs and Riyadh. Also on the delegation’s agenda would be the issue of forming a new government and agreeing on a new law for the parliamentary elections, to ensure the elections happen before the end of the current Parliament’s mandate on June 20 and to prevent Lebanon from entering into the unknown.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.