Riyadh says Lebanon 'declaring war' on Saudi

#Diplomacy

Saudi state minister for Gulf affairs warns Lebanon of grave consequences if Hezbollah continues its 'plots' against the kingdom

File photo of Hezbollah rally in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, 13 August 2017 (Reuters)
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Monday 6 November 2017 23:16 UTC
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A Saudi minister took Riyadh’s threatening rhetoric against Hezbollah and Lebanon to a new height on Monday, accusing the group of engaging in terrorist activities on Saudi soil.

Thamer al-Sabhan, the state minister for Gulf affairs, said that the Lebanese government will be treated as “declaring war” on Saudi Arabia because of Hezbollah’s “aggression” against the kingdom and its participation in the Lebanese parliament and cabinet.

“The situation is very very sensitive; the situation is very alarming,” al-Sabhan told Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV.

“[Hezbollah] has become a tool for murder and destruction in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [Hezbollah] participates in all the terrorist attacks in the kingdom.”

Throughout the interview, al-Sabhan referred to Hezbollah, whose name literally means the party of god in Arabic, as the “party of the devil.”



Thamer al-Sabhan met Hariri four days before the prime minister's resignation (Reuters)

The Saudi minister denied that Riyadh had forced Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign on Saturday. Al-Sabhan, who had met Hariri four days before Saturday’s announcement, said the prime minister was informed of the details of Hezbollah’s hostile plans against Riyadh.

“Saudi Arabia will stand against these plots strongly and firmly,” al-Sabhan said.

He added that Hezbollah’s “stupidity” will not only harm the group, but also its allies and supporters.

“We warn the Lebanese government and the Lebanese leadership that the consequences of this matter will be grave on Lebanon and Lebanese affairs as a whole,” al-Sabhan continued.

“We will stop any person who would violate our beloved state.”

The Saudi minister did not cite specific attacks or plots by Hezbollah. The kingdom has suffered suicide bombs by the Islamic State (IS) group against security forces and Shia mosques over the past three years.

Hezbollah is backed by Iran, Riyadh’s archrival. The group is also accused of participating in the war in Yemen on the side Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia, charges that its leaders deny.

Last month, a top US security official accused Hezbollah of planning attacks inside the United States.

Hariri had met Saudi King Salman earlier on Monday. Al-Sabhan said the meeting dismisses “ludicrous” allegations that the prime minister is under house arrest or any form of coercion.