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A funeral procession for a senior Hezbollah senior commander who was killed in Syria, in the southern Lebanese village of Ansar, March 2, 2016 (AP photo by Mohammed Zaatari).

Punitive Saudi Moves in Lebanon Isolate Sunnis, Benefiting Hezbollah

Monday, March 14, 2016

On Feb. 19, Saudi Arabia announced it was canceling $4 billion in aid earmarked for Lebanon since 2013 and imposed a travel ban for Saudi citizens to the Mediterranean country. The moves represented an unequivocal shift in Saudi foreign policy toward Lebanon, where for years the kingdom has competed with Iran for influence by backing the Sunni-led March 14 coalition, headed by the Future Movement of Saad Hariri, against Hezbollah and the rival March 8 coalition that it leads.

Saudi allies swiftly followed suit: Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates called on their citizens to leave Lebanon. Less than two weeks later, the Saudi-led six-member Gulf Cooperation Council formally branded Hezbollah a terrorist organization, blacklisting companies with any ties to the Shiite group, which is both Lebanon’s strongest political party and militia. The GCC cited security concerns that cells of Hezbollah were operating in their countries. ...

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