Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Walid Bukhari, said Thursday that the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement represents “a threat to regional security”, accusations that may affect the already difficult relations between Riyadh and Beirut.
Since the end of October there is a diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and various Gulf monarchies around Hezbollah, a major player in Lebanese politics, armed and financed by Iran, Saudi Arabia’s great regional rival.
On Monday, in a speech broadcast on Lebanese television, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman a “terrorist” and accused the kingdom of spreading extremism.
Following these statements, Ambassador Bukhari urged the Lebanese parties to “make the supreme interest of their country their priority (…) and put an end to the hegemony of Hezbollah in all aspects of the state.”
“Hezbollah’s terrorist activities and its military actions in the region threaten the national security of the Arab countries,” he insisted in a statement transmitted to AFP.
By the end of october, Saudi Arabia called its ambassador in Beirut and expelled the Lebanese representative following statements by a Lebanese minister criticizing the intervention of a Riyadh-led military coalition in the Yemen war.
This conflict has pitted Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against the allied government of Riyadh since 2015. The Arab monarchy accuses Hezbollah of training the insurgents, “ridiculous” accusations according to the Lebanese group.
The war in Yemen has killed 377,000 people, more than half due to the humanitarian crisis generated in the country, according to the United Nations.
The Saudi-led military coalition, which has intervened in Yemen since 2015, accused the Shiite terror group Hezbollah and the Iranian regime of supporting Yemeni Houthi rebels., as well as spreading religious sectarianism in Arab countries.
At a press conference in Riyadh, the coalition’s spokesman, Turki al Malki, showed images in which members of Hezbollah allegedly train the Houthis to launch explosive drones.
“The war in Yemen is an intellectual, cultural, social and economic battle (…), it is a battle between peace and destruction; the peace to which the coalition led by the kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) aspires and the destruction led by Iran”Al Malki said.
He added that “Iran transmitted its sectarian ideology to the Arab region (…), Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq (…), these countries that have suffered from Iranian and Hezbollah interference “, a group that also accused of” planting intelligence cells in Kuwait and Bahrain ”.
Al Malki stated that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels “use civilian areas to store weapons” and “employ civilians as human shields”, something he used to justify the recent bombings against various towns in Yemen and, especially, the capital.
(With information from AFP)
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