For those who entertain the dark allure of Arab conspiracy theories, Nov. 4 was a red-letter day. In the space of a few hours, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was the convergence point of three significant developments. One was that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation. The second was that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cracked down on rivals in the ruling family. The third was that a long-range ballistic missile was aimed at the Saudi capital by Yemen's Houthis.
Nothing about Hariri’s most recent travel plans or political views hinted that a resignation was imminent; this opened the door for speculation that he either had survived an assassination attempt in Beirut or was under house arrest in Riyadh. He has a history of being under Saudi pressure. In 2009-2010, when serving as prime minister for the first time, Hariri complained to US officials about Saudi pressure on him to make peace with the Syrian regime. Once the Saudi-Syrian rapprochement began to fray, Hariri was ousted from power in January 2011, within minutes of taking a photo with US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Most recently, Hariri was pressured by Saudi officials not to engage the Syrian regime or succumb to Iranian influence.