Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri visited Riyadh in early March, signaling an effort to improve ties after the kingdom’s botched attempt to force Mr Hariri’s resignation last year (MEES, 10 November 2017). By far the Arab world’s biggest spender, Saudi Arabia will prove crucial to meeting Lebanon’s redevelopment needs at upcoming donor conferences (MEES, 16 March).

Mr Hariri is himself a Saudi citizen with business interests in the kingdom, and his Future Movement has the strongest ties to the Saudi royal family of any party in Lebanon. But Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s virulent confrontation with Iran rendered Riyadh’s man in Beirut a pawn, forcing Mr Hariri to resign on Saudi state television whilst (ironically) citing Iranian meddling in Lebanon. The plan backfired when Mr Hariri received a hero’s welcome back home and eventually reneged on his promised ‘resignation’ (MEES, 24 November 2017). (CONTINUED - 249 WORDS)