If three days ago the middle east was on the "verge of a catastrophe", then moments ago it took one big step closer to the edge.
Recall that on Tuesday we reported that Saudi Arabia had again cast itself as the victim of external Shia plotting, after its internal weekend of chaos which included a missile attack from Yemen, the deaths of two princes and other high officials within a mere 24 hours, and an aggressive crackdown against dissent in the royal family which saw close to a dozen princes placed under house arrest. And while Saudi Arabia has long blamed Iran for sowing unrest in the region, Tuesday's declaration by Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan that Lebanon has "declared war" against the kingdom was an historic first. But perhaps the biggest problem is that international media is currently uncritically spreading the statement, whereas what such a bizarre claim actually warrants is laughter. Thankfully, Nassim Nicholas Taleb sums it up nicely with a basic geography lesson: "Either the media is stupid, or Saudi rulers are stupid, or both. Lebanon did not formally declare war and there is no common border."
Well, fast forward three days when Lebanon has still not declared war on Saudi Arabia, however it has turned the table on Riyadh, when moments ago Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, said that "Saudi Arabia has declared war on Lebanon and Hezbollah." In a televized address to mark Hezbollah’s so-called Martyr Day, Nasrallah warned Israel against what he called "miscalculations" and said Saudis are angry because "their dreams did not come true in Syria, Lebanon."
The Hezbollah leader also said he sees an Israeli war with Lebanon as unlikely, and warns Israel against any attempt to exploit the political chaos in Lebanon, claiming "today we are stronger." Nasrallah also said that Yemenis have capacity to produce missiles, denying Saudi claims that Hezbollah fired a missile at Riyadh.
Claiming that the failed Saudi faceoff with Qatar, and its intervention in Bahrain made its government bankrupt, he also warned that Saudi Arabia - which claims to be helping Yemenis, but has only killed its people, spread disease, hunger - "will fail in Lebanon as it did in all other arenas in the region."
Nasrallah: Saudis are angry because their dreams did not come true in Syria, Lebanon pic.twitter.com/BPplZ6Dzw0— Press TV Breaking (@BREAKING_PTV) November 10, 2017
The Hezbollah leader also said former Lebanon premier Saad Hariri, who unexpectedly resigned over the weekend, is being kept under house arrest in Saudi Arabia after resigning as Lebanese Prime Minister from its capital on Saturday, and must be allowed to return home.
And now that both sides have mutually accused each other of having declared war on each other, the question is which country will break the stalemate and move from words to actions.