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Saudi-Qatar Honeymoon In Lebanon Is Over

Seemingly eager to turn the regional unrest to their advantage, both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are carefully strategizing their diplomatic efforts in the Mideast.
Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (R) meets with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani (C) and Lebanon's former prime minister Saad al-Hariri at the Royal Palace in Mecca August 13, 2012. REUTERS/Saudi Press Agency/Handout (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - R
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The silent conflict raging between Qatar and Saudi Arabia currently revolves around two main axes. The first is their respective positions vis-à-vis the Muslim Brotherhood, and their disagreement as to whether to back or reject its ascent to power in Syria. The second concerns Saudi Arabia’s objection to the disproportionate — relative to its size — Qatari role in the region, while the latter insists on allowing its role to play out.

According to sources knowledgeable in internal Saudi affairs, Riyadh considers its dispute with Qatar — subsequent to the latter’s support for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood reaching power — as a dispute with strategic overtones. Lately, specifically after the naming of Tammam Salam as prime minister-designate to form a new Lebanese government, the alliance between Doha and Riyadh in managing the Lebanese arena has shown signs of disintegrating. The last time the two countries were in accord over Lebanon was when [former Lebanese] Prime Minister Saad Hariri visited Qatar last summer, and later appeared in a photograph with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim when both visited Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

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