Posters of Saudi Crown Prince Are Being Torched in Lebanon Amid Growing Proxy War Between Iran and the Gulf Kingdom

11_13_Saudi_Arabia
A poster of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a phrase reading in Arabic, 'God protect you' is seen on a highway in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli on November 9, 2017. Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP/Getty

As tensions continue to rise between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon over what is being dubbed a new proxy war between the Gulf Kingdom and Shia rival Iran, authorities are having to remove banners of Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Why? They are being burned.

The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on November 4 over what he said was an alleged assassination plot prompted the latest crisis. He fled to Saudi Arabia but said on Sunday that he would return to Lebanon to resign through the official constitutional process after the emergence of accusations that the Saudi government was holding him hostage.

Amid the crisis, a video emerged over the weekend of a poster of the 32-year-old prince being burned in the northern city of Tripoli. The Lebanese government pledged to find whoever was responsible.

"Acts such as this do not reflect the true feelings of the residents of Tripoli and Lebanon as a whole towards Saudi Arabia. I have asked security forces to find the perpetrators," Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk‏ tweeted on Saturday.

He wrote in another Twitter post that "Salman's posters are placed in our hearts and not on the streets so that a hater can burn them."

Authorities removed all banners depicting Salman's face on Sunday, North Lebanon's governor Ramzi Nohra confirmed to Lebanon's The Daily Star.

"This campaign is ongoing and we will not allow anyone to hang political pictures and slogans in public streets and to challenge the state," he said.

There is anger among some Lebanese with Saudi Arabia's perceived interference in its politics. The leader of Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah said on Friday that Saudi Arabia had declared war on Lebanon and the group for holding Hariri.

Both Saudi Arabia, a regional Sunni power, and Iran, remain opposed to one another in the Middle East, supporting rival factions across the region from Lebanon to Yemen.

But Sunni politicians said the posters should remain. Former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said they represented "the historic friendship between Lebanon and the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia]."

Both France and Germany called for "non-interference" in the crisis and for the country's political factions to resolve their differences as soon as possible.

"For there to be a political solution in Lebanon, it is necessary that all of the political leaders have total freedom of movement and that non-interference is a fundamental principle," France's Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Brussels on Monday.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that "in order to prevent this we need especially the return of the current prime minister, reconciliation in the country and the prevention of influence from outside."

The U.S. has called Hariri a "strong partner" and pledged support for his position.

In his speech, Hariri alluded to the assassination plot being the work of Hezbollah, which has a stake in the ruling Lebanese coalition but also serves as a proxy of Iran in the country and neighboring Syria. The group denies allegations that it was behind the assassination of Saad Hariri's father and former Lebanese prime minister Rafik in 2005.

Posters of Saudi Crown Prince Are Being Torched in Lebanon Amid Growing Proxy War Between Iran and the Gulf Kingdom | World