Saudi Arabia appears eager to start another proxy war with Iran in the Middle East—one that will imperil millions of Christians and all Lebanese.

A war in Lebanon would create another Middle East refugee crisis. It would also breathe new life into terrorist organizations, threatening not only the region’s Christians, but also the U.S. and its allies.

On Saturday, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a TV broadcast from Saudi Arabia that he was stepping down because of an alleged assassination plot, as well as Iranian involvement in the Lebanese government though its proxy militia-turned-political-party and U.S.-designated terrorist organization: Hezbollah. Mr. Hariri has been one of the most outspoken advocates against terrorism and for peace in Lebanon and in April of this year, Mr. Hariri asked for the United Nations to negotiate a permanent peace in Lebanon. His call was recently echoed at IDC’s Summit for Middle East Christians by Maronite Patriarch Rai, who called on America to help Lebanon negotiate peace, adding that Lebanon sought “peace with those on its borders.” It is believed by many in Lebanon that Mr. Hariri was pressured to step down by Saudi Arabia and that he is currently under house arrest.

This announcement was shocking, however Saudi Arabia did not stop there. On Monday Saudi Arabia accused Hezbollah of launching a missile from Yemen near the Saudi capital Riyadh and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Iran of “direct military aggression” by supplying missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen. Members of the Saudi government have removed the commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard and detained at least 11 members of the ruling family and dozens of others in an attempt to consolidate power.

It is clear the Saudi government is moving to escalate its proxy war with Iran by using Lebanon as a battlefield. This is of particular concern for IDC and people of goodwill who have watched Saudi Arabia and Iran’s proxy war lead multiple large scale humanitarian crises, such as in Syria and Yemen. In both countries, starvation, massive refugee crises, and disease has let thousands of children to fend for themselves and led to hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Lebanon has taken in close to 2 million Syrian refugees, overwhelming its population as it struggles to accommodate a refugee population equal to nearly a half of its native population, resulting in exorbitant pressure on Lebanon’s resources. Despite this, Lebanon has not only taken in these refugees during a time of political uncertainty, but has accomplished a smooth transition to a new government through a democratic election, protected the multi-party system, and worked to maintain a fragile infrastructure system to support the growing population.

IDC calls on the Trump Administration, the United Nations, and America’s allies—particularly Germany, France, and the United Kingdom—to negotiate a permanent peace in Lebanon, including the implementation of UN Resolutions 1701 and 1559, which call for the disarmament of all militias, and a total reassertion of Lebanon’s sovereignty.

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