Proxy wars with Saudi Arabia and Iran cause problems in Yemen and Lebanon

By Olivia Jenkins and Madeline Brooks

As the struggle for power between Saudi Arabia and Iran continues, Lebanon and Yemen have become a battlefield between the two nations, causing destruction and chaos across the Middle East.

As of now, Yemen is facing a political, military, and humanitarian crisis. What began as a poor transition of power of the Presidency from Ali Abdullah Saleh to Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has ended in the assassination of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and caused a civil war leading to millions of Yemeni people on the brink of famine. This civil war began in 2015 when a rebel group called the Houthis attacked Sanaa and removed President Hadi. Since then, the crisis has multiplied exponentially. Most recently, a Saudi blockade of Yemen lead to millions without necessary supplies, such as food. Already suffering from severe poverty, many Yemeni were unable to support themselves.

Yemen has been the center of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with Saudi Arabia backing Yemen’s exiled government, and Iran backing the Houthi rebels. These two opposing forces seem to be tearing the nation apart, causing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen today. Meanwhile, tensions are rising in Lebanon after the resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, reflecting a different divide between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  

On November 4, Prime Minister Hariri announced his resignation while in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The resignation was completely unexpected, shocking the nation. During his resignation speech, Hariri accused Iran of “discord, devastation and destruction” across the Middle East and accused Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, of trying to destabilize the country.

Hariri’s resignation is seen by many in and outside of the region as another battle in Saudi Arabia’s proxy war with Iran. Hariri’s has had deep ties, both personal and business-related, with Saudi Arabia, and even holds citizenship in both Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Hariri’s speech condemning Iran and Hezbollah has been seen as an indication of Saudi’s involvement. The current President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage and forcing him to resign.

Hariri left Saudi Arabia to travel to France where the government offered to mediate talks of resignation. After his trip to France, in late November Hariri returned to Lebanon to hand his resignation to President Aoun who refused to accept it. Hariri agreed to suspend his request and instead carry out negotiations.

Hariri and Aoun were elected in a compromise that ended more than two years of a political standoff. Hariri initially did not support Aoun, as he is an ally of Hezbollah, which was responsible to the assassination of Hariri’s father in 2005.

The current battle in Lebanon has yet to come to the severity of Yemen but if Saudi Arabia and Iran continue their current actions then not just Lebanon and Yemen, but the entire Middle East could face the consequences.

Photo courtesy of CNBC

Leave a Reply