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Saudi Arabia's bitter Lebanese divorce

(REUTERS) The waspish cartoon in a Saudi-owned newspaper summed up the anger behind Riyadh’s decision to cancel billions of dollars in military aid and suspend decades of engagement in Lebanon’s fraught politics. “The State of Lebanon: April Fool”, it read.

Published on the same day that a Saudi-owned television news channel shut down its Lebanese operations, Friday’s cartoon was the latest sign of a falling out which began in January and has become increasingly embittered.

The cartoon’s stinging message, that the Lebanese government is a fictitious joke, reflects Saudi Arabia’s conviction that the Shi’ite group Hezbollah, backed by Riyadh’s regional rival Iran, now pulls the strings in Beirut.