Saudi minister slams Lebanon govt. over Hezbollah

Press TV – Saudi Arabia has urged the Lebanese government to take action to curb the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah.

Saudi Minister of State for Persian Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on Sunday censured the Beirut government’s “silence” on what he called Hezbollah’s “war” against the Persian Gulf kingdom.

“What is weird is the silence of the [Lebanese] government and people on that,” Sabhan wrote on Twitter in what observers believe is bound to embarrass the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which includes representatives of Hezbollah and its allies.

The Lebanese government has not commented on Sabhan’s remarks yet.

Sabhan’s statements came on the same day Hezbollah MP Nawaf Musawi denounced Saudi Arabia for financing media campaigns to vilify the party in the lead-up to next year’s parliamentary elections.

“Saudi Arabia has earmarked a budget to smear Hezbollah. What’s new in the Saudi campaigns against Hezbollah is that they are launched directly from the mouths of the Saudi regime after they were launched from the mouths of allies or friends in Lebanon,” Musawi said during a Hezbollah rally in south Lebanon.

“The campaigns against Hezbollah are not new … therefore, we say that these campaigns will escalate, particularly in the election season,” he added.

Sabhan has repeatedly attacked the resistance movement, but this is the first time he has directly criticized the Hariri government.

A handout picture provided by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra shows Lebanese President Michel Aoun (C-back) and Prime Minister Saad Hariri (C-L) attending a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace of Baabda, east of Beirut, on June 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Sabhan said in a tweet last month that the Lebanese will have to choose between backing the resistance movement or opposing it.

Last week, the Saudi minister hailed new US sanctions against Hezbollah and renewed his call to confront the party by force.

“All of those who work and cooperate with it politically, economically and through the media should be punished,” Sabhan said. “There should be serious work to tame it internally and externally and to confront it with force.”

Sabhan has previously called for the formation of an international military coalition against Hezbollah which has been a thorn in the side of Israel for years. On October 26, the US House of Representatives endorsed new sanctions on the resistance group.

Hezbollah was founded in the 1980s following the Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon. The movement waged a long resistance campaign against Zionist troops and pushed them out of southern Lebanon in May 2000. Since then, the group has grown into a powerful military force. Israel also suffered a humiliating defeat against Hezbollah in a war in 2006.

Hezbollah has also supported the Syrian army in its fight against foreign-sponsored terrorists, including those supported by Saudi Arabia who have suffered serious defeats in recent years.