Global Politics

Arab diplomacy efforts in Lebanon

Those Arab diplomats arriving in Lebanon are trying to ease the Sunni-Shia Muslim divide that runs directly between the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Shia-led Iran. Iraq has become a violent flashpoint of those tensions and now many fear Lebanon could become another such point: Saudi Arabia backs the Sunni-led government while Iran backs the Shia-led opposition and Hezbollah. The Saudi government recently accused Iran of trying to foment a coup with their support of Hezbollah in Lebanon, but Iranian officials shot back that Iran is the only country not fighting a proxy war in the region. This analyst says Lebanon represents a clear example of Saudi and Iranian interests colliding. The Saudis have long standing business ties with some of Lebanon's top politicians but little other interests or influence in Lebanon. Soon after today's meeting, Lebanon's government announced it plans to rescind the two government decisions that set off the current fighting with Hezbollah: the government ban with Hezbollah's telephone network and the firing of the airport's security head who was close to Hezbollah. These are signs that Iran is coming out on top in the situation in Lebanon. Some Middle East experts believe Iran and Hezbollah might be overplaying their hand in Lebanon but this analyst isn't so sure. During his visit to Israel, Mr. Bush weighed in on the issue by saying Iran is trying to destabilize the region.

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