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Zarif trip to Lebanon includes signal to Saudi Arabia

Iran and Hezbollah's abrupt change toward the formation of a Lebanese government might be part of a regional settlement.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) attends a joint conference with Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour in Beirut January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir (LEBANON - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX17CRS
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The most noticeable aspect of the visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Beirut on Jan. 12 were the positions he took toward Saudi Arabia and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, as they clearly contradicted those of Hezbollah, especially some of the Party of God’s recent stances.

Hezbollah has recently waged an anti-Saudi Arabia campaign, which included Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah accusing Saudi intelligence of being behind the November 2013 bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. In addition, Hezbollah has launched harsh attacks against Suleiman, be it via repudiation of the Baabda Declaration or raising suspicions about the Saudi-French initiative to support the Lebanese army, the latter of which is considered to be an achievement for Suleiman. Hezbollah had also issued warnings against forming a “de facto government,” meaning a neutral government, which might be Suleiman's only option if Lebanon is to avoid a constitutional vacuum and further wandering into unknown territory.

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