x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 November 2017

The manifestations of Iran's troubling actions

The resignation of the Lebanese prime minister and the missile fired at Riyadh are reminders that this region will not be safe as long as Tehran's malign influence goes unchecked

Saad Hariri is intimately familiar with Iran's remorseless capacity for carnage. Reuters / Ali Hashisho
Saad Hariri is intimately familiar with Iran's remorseless capacity for carnage. Reuters / Ali Hashisho

Saturday brought with it the reminder that this region cannot truly be free of conflict and strife as long as the Iranian regime’s influence goes unchecked. Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation because he feared assassination at the hands of Hizbollah, Iran’s armed client. Mr Hariri is intimately familiar with Tehran’s regime. His late father, Rafik Hariri, was murdered in 2005 by the very same elements that now threaten his life.

The government of Syria, which Iran and Hizbollah have shored up, has been implicated by the United Nations in that crime. “Wherever Iran is involved, there is nothing but devastation and chaos”, Mr Hariri said in his resignation address. If there were any doubts about what Mr Hariri termed Iran’s “strong desire to destroy the Arab world”, Tehran rapidly dispelled them.

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Lebanon prime minister Hariri resigns, criticising Iran influence

Saudis intercept ballistic missile northeast of Riyadh

If all societies eventually crumble, could Lebanon be next?

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On the same day that Mr Hariri quit, a ballistic missile sailed in the direction of Saudi Arabia’s capital. Launched by Houthi militias from across Saudi Arabia’s southern border with Yemen, the missile was aimed at a major international airport. We can only shudder at the thought of the havoc it would have wreaked had the Saudi air force not intercepted and destroyed it before it reached its target. This is not the first time that the Houthis have fired projectiles at Saudi Arabia. In October, a Houthi missile destroyed a building in a village in Saudi Arabia’s Najran region. In August, they fired a missile at the holy city of Makkah, even as they stopped Yemeni citizens from making the Hajj pilgrimage.

The Houthis have turned Yemen into a lawless land. They have toppled the country’s internationally recognised government, held the people captive and threatened the security of multiple Arab nations. They have been helped every step of the way by their allies in Iran, who are interested in Yemen solely with the purpose of destabilising the region. Donald Trump, the US president, described Saturday's attack on Riyadh as a "shot taken by Iran", a claim a senior Iranian official described as "baseless".

As this newspaper has often observed, those who believe that conduct of the Iranian regime can be moderated by enriching it further with the nuclear deal are gravely mistaken. A system that rewards the current Iranian leadership for bad behaviour ensures that such behaviour is amplified, not curtailed. This is why the nuclear deal has proven such a spectacular failure at improving the security of the region. But, as Mr Hariri warned on Saturday, there will come a time when Iran will have to account for its actions.

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