The weekends events on the northern front – the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and before that, tensions along the Syrian-Israeli border due to an incident in the Syrian Druze village of Khader – were the latest shock waves from recent dramatic developments in Syria and the broader Middle East.
>> Hariri's resignation threatens Iranian grip on Lebanon | Analysis
They stem, first, from the significant edge the Assad regime and its supporters have gained in the Syrian civil war over the past few months, and second, from the intensifying battle for Mideast dominance between Iran and the Sunni axis led by Saudi Arabia.
Hariris resignation came as something of a surprise to Israel, and to other Mideast countries as well. He announced Saturday that he fears for his life and accused Iran of dangerous meddling in Lebanons affairs. The Al-Arabiya television network recently reported that an assassination attempt on Hariri had been thwarted. Hariris father, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was murdered in 2005, apparently by Syria and Hezbollah.
>> Is Saudi Arabia pushing Israel into war with Hezbollah and Iran? | Former U.S. envoy to Israel Dan Shapiro
But the resignation might also have another explanation. The Trump administrations new sanctions on Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard will hurt Lebanons central bank and make it hard to pay the salaries of Lebanese government workers affiliated with Hezbollah.
For Israel, Hariris resignation merely increases the instability on the northern front and intensifies the danger of Hezbollah making rash moves if it becomes embroiled in a political crisis in Lebanon.
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