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Hezbollah files official complaint against US envoy

Supporters of the Hezbollah movement watch a speech by the movement's leader Hasan Nasrallah, transmitted on a large screen in Beirut, Lebanon on 2 September 2019 [AFP/Getty Images)]
Supporters of the Hezbollah movement watch a speech by the movement's leader Hasan Nasrallah, transmitted on a large screen in Beirut, Lebanon on 2 September 2019 [AFP/Getty Images)]

The military arm of Lebanon’s Hezbollah has filed a formal complaint against the US Ambassador Dorothy Shea following comments she made in a recent interview.

Secretary-General of the Iranian-backed Shia militia Hasan Nasrallah had warned the group’s parliamentary bloc would make the move during a recent speech.

According to local media reports, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc Mohammed Raad made the formal complaint to the Foreign Ministry during a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassif Hitti, saying afterwards: “We asked Minister Hitti to take the measures that he sees appropriate to rein in the US ambassador’s behaviour, statements and meddling in our domestic affairs… the ambassador must stop interfering in our internal affairs and she must stop the rhetoric that incites the Lebanese”.

Adding, “in the name of the Loyalty to Resistance bloc, we lodged with Minister Hitti an official protest letter against the statements and violations of the US ambassador.”

READ: IMF urges Lebanese to unite around government financial rescue plan

“We consider that respecting diplomatic rules and norms would reflect positively on the reputation of the ambassador and those whom she represents,” Raad was quoted as saying by Lebanese daily Naharnet.

The formal complaint comes after US Ambassador Shea appeared on the Saudi-owned news channel Al-Hadath at the end of June saying the US has “grave concerns about the role of Hezbollah” which “is destabilising the country and jeopardizing Lebanon’s economic recovery”.

Shea added: “[Hezbollah] has siphoned off billions of dollars that should have gone into government coffers so that the government can provide basic services to its people… [and] it has obstructed some of the economic reforms the Lebanese economy so desperately needs.”

Following the comments, Judge Mohammed Mazeh, who is based in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, a Hezbollah stronghold, banned local media, as well as foreign journalists working in the country, from reporting the comments for a year.

The ruling garnered widespread criticism including from several Lebanese news channels that broadcast interviews with the US ambassador after the ban had been issued, in a show of defiance. Mazeh was referred to a judicial inspection board over his issuing of the ban but later resigned.

READ: Lebanese Christian cleric seen to criticise Hezbollah, allies over crisis

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