(Video) With Hariri’s Release, What is Saudi Arabia’s Next Move?

Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss confronting Iran and the Lebanese resistance Hezbollah, who the Arab allies say are interfering in their internal affairs.

Regional tensions have risen between Saudi Arabia and Iran over Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s surprise resignation and after an escalation in Yemen’s conflict.

Furthermore, Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Senior Lebanese politicians close to Hariri have accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage and forcing him to resign. Saudi Arabia and Hariri both have denied those accusations. However, President Aoun refused Hariri’s resignation and demanded his return to Lebanon; Hariri returned to Beirut late Tuesday and attended the Independence Day military parade alongside President Michel Aoun.

On Thursday, the New York Times published an interview with the Saudi young Crown Prince, known as “MBS”, during which he said that Saudi Arabia will make use of its muscles to put a stop to a growing Iranian influence in the Arab world. Iran’s “supreme leader is the new Hitler of the Middle East,” MBS told the newspaper. “We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East.”

The biggest center of contention between Riyadh and Tehran is Lebanon where their rivalry is playing out in daily politics. Saudi Arabia accused Iran and the Lebanese resistance Hezbollah of threatening the life of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to which Iran said Riyadh had forced Hariri to resign and put him under house arrest.

The spike in tensions coincides with Prince Mohammed’s new anti-corruption purge, which saw around 200 elites including princes, ministers and business tycoons arrested or sacked earlier this month.

The purge has triggered uncertainty among businesses that could lead to capital flight or derail reform efforts, experts say, at a time when the kingdom is seeking to attract badly needed investments to offset a protracted oil slump.

After two weeks of turmoil caused by the sudden action of MBS what will be the fate of the region in this Saudi-Iranian conflict? Only time will tell.

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Hala Hayek Najjar