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YEREVAN. – Lebanon is one of the countries where it is critical for the Iranians to maintain influence and therefore they will fight for it very actively, Chatham House analyst Nikolay Kozhanov believes.

The analyst believes that everything depends not on the behavior of the Iranians, but rather the behavior of Saudi Arabia.

“If we look at developments of the last couple of weeks, it is obvious that the Saudis are active in the countries where the Iranian presence is shrinking or is rather weak. The recent build-up of relations with the Kurds in Iraq suggests that there is another attempt to stir up the countries that surround Iran,” Kozhanov, academy associate at the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House, told Armenian News-NEWS.am.

Asked about possible implications for the South Caucasus, the analyst did not rule out that it is quite possible to see some actions of the Saudis here.  

“Although I believe that this is unlikely. Iranians will continue to play the card, which they always played. That is, they will continue to maintain a certain balance between the countries while respecting economic interests. From the economic perspective, there will be more relations with Azerbaijan than with Armenia. Iran is likely to continue sending Armenia political signals to show: ‘we are here, we will not leave you’,” the expert added.

The struggle for spheres of influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran has escalated, and the latest evidence is the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Hariri accused the Shiite movement Hezbollah and Iran of inciting hatred in Lebanon and the Arab world. Lebanese PM said that he had learned about the assassination attempt on him had been thwarted in Beirut The Iranian Foreign Ministry called Hariri’s accusations groundless. At the same time, Hezbollah movement leader Hassan Nasrallah noted that Riyadh forced Hariri to resign and, probably, keeps him in Saudi Arabia forcibly.

Lebanon is home to a large 150-thousand Armenian community. The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia is headquartered in Lebanon as well.

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