Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Saudi tealeaf reading on Lebanon

Hariri addressing the Biel rally (photo courtesy Al-Mustaqbal)
Guest post by veteran Middle East publisher F. Najia

Saudi Arabia’s bellwether media man Daoud al-Sharyan tells Lebanon’s outgoing premier Saad Hariri that leading his “March 14” coalition into opposition “without regional cover” is misguided.

“Today we are in opposition… We vow to uphold the Constitution, the Special Tribunal [for Lebanon] and public and private liberties,” Hariri told a February 14 rally at Biel. The rally marked the sixth anniversary of the Beirut car bombing assassination of his father Rafik Hariri.

Sharyan, who serves as editor-in-chief in Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV and News Channel, writing the morning after for the Saudi daily al-Hayat, says “Prime Minister designate Najib Mikati is Lebanon’s Shapour Bakhtiar,” the last prime minister under the Shah of Iran.

“To attack him at this juncture evokes memories of the Islamists’ offensive on Bakhtiar who sought to protect Iran’s stability and preempt the Islamic Revolution.”

By rebuffing Mikati and refusing to join his government, some “March 14” politicians will be exposing themselves to “provocation and prosecution,” Sharyan warns.

“Wisdom ordains participation in the Mikati government in order to maintain the status quo ante pending the tribunal’s findings.” To insist on “going into opposition without regional [read Saudi] cover” bodes ill for Lebanon and Hariri’s “Future Movement” and his “March 14” alliance, the Saudi analyst suggests.