Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement Friday warning countries across the region against using Lebanon as a venue for regional proxy fighting, saying the US strongly backs Lebanese independence.
Saudi Arabia has been threatening Lebanon this week, accusing them of having “declared war.” Lebanon has demanded that the Saudis return Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose status is increasingly uncertain.
The Saudis see Lebanon as part of an Iran-led Shi’ite band of territory from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan’s border, and while still trying to back rebels in Syria, they seem more eager to focus on Lebanon now.
Tillerson insists there is “no role” in Lebanon for any foreign force, though in practice there really aren’t any at the moment, beyond a very small UN Observer Force keeping an eye on the Israeli border. Israel invades southern Lebanon every now and then, but there haven’t been indications that such an incursion is imminent, let alone that Tillerson would have a problem with it, as the US tends to endorse whatever attacks Israel carries out.
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