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Lebanese PM stays in job; oil threat eases

Dec 07

A potential disruption to the oil market eased on Dec. 5 when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri rescinded the resignation he had announced Nov. 4 in Saudi Arabia (OGJ Online, Nov. 13, 2017).

The announcement threatened to escalate already high tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which together produce 13.9 million b/d of crude oil—14% of global oil supply.

Hariri had blamed his resignation on Iran and its Hezbollah proxy, a governing partner with growing influence in Lebanon. He has dual citizenship in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-Iranian conflict is most overt in Yemen, where the Saudi military is fighting Iranian-back Houthi rebels.

Saudi officials last month blamed Hezbollah and Houthi militants for at least two rockets fired harmlessly from Yemen toward Riyadh. Hezbollah’s military wing also is active in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Saudi government also is known to be concerned about rising Iranian influence in Iraq.

After withdrawing his resignation, Hariri said his coalition government had reaffirmed its policy of nonparticipation in conflicts in Arab countries.