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    Hariri wont cover for Hezbollah MBS tells NYT

    BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri will no longer provide Hezbollah political cover, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said in an interview published Thursday.
    In a wide-ranging interview conducted by the New York Time, writer Thomas L. Friedman reported that Prince Mohammad wouldn’t be drawn into details of Hariri’s shock resignation announcement from Riyadh on Nov. 4. However, Friedman said the “bottom line of the whole affair is that Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, is not going to continue providing political cover for a Lebanese government that is essentially controlled by the … Hezbollah, which is essentially controlled by Tehran.”
    Many questions were raised about the reasoning of Hariri’s resignation in the wake of the announcement earlier this month.
    The premier’s resignation, however, wasn’t accepted by President Michel Aoun, who expressed doubts that Hariri was speaking of his own free will and going further to say that Hariri was detained in Riyadh.
    In his resignation speech, Hariri implicated Hezbollah in what he said was Iran’s race towards total domination. “Hezbollah was able to impose a reality in Lebanon by force of arms, and their intervention causes us great problems with our Arab allies,” he said.
    Iran, which backs Hezbollah, and Saudi Arabia are regional rivals.
    Prince Mohammad also called the Supreme Leader of Iran “the new Hitler of the Middle East,” sharply escalating the war of words between the arch-rivals.
    The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran back rival sides in wars and political crises throughout the region.
    Prince Mohammed, who is also Saudi defense minister in the U.S.-allied oil giant kingdom, suggested the Islamic Republic’s alleged expansion under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei needed to be confronted.
    “But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East,” the paper quoted him as saying.
    Saudi Arabia has launched thousands of air strikes in a two-and-a-half-year-old war in neighboring Yemen to defeat the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement that seized broad swaths of the country.
    Salman told the Times that the war was going in its favor and that its allies controlled 85 percent of Yemen’s territory.
    The Houthis, however, still retain the main population centers despite the war effort by a Saudi-led military coalition which receives intelligence and refueling for its warplanes by the United States. Some 10,000 people have died in the conflict.
    The group launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh’s main airport on Nov. 4, which Saudi Arabia decried as an act of war by Tehran.
    Bin Salman said in May that the kingdom would make sure any future struggle between the two countries “is waged in Iran.”
    For his part, Khamenei has referred to the House of Saud as an “accursed tree”, and Iranian officials have accused the kingdom of spreading terrorism.
     The Daily Star 

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