In November 2017, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) launched an impulsive bid to isolate Iran by forcing the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a visit by the latter to Riyadh. The Crown Prince was counting on the support of his Sunni Arab allies, but one notable Arab country abstained. Instead of backing its key regional benefactor, Egypt immediately aligned itself with French efforts to broker a diplomatic solution, hosting Hariri in Cairo and championing his return to Lebanon as prime minister. Egypt’s stance, focused on “the importance of preserving Lebanon’s stability and elevating Lebanon’s national interests,” struck a discordant note with Riyadh’s recent “with us or against us” attempts to reorder the Middle East along Manichean lines between itself and Tehran.
The above excerpt was originally published in Foreign Affairs.
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