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Lebanese government distances itself from Hezbollah criticism of Saudi Arabia

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut on 28 December 2021 [Lebanese Prime Ministry/Anadolu Agency]
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut on 28 December 2021 [Lebanese Prime Ministry/Anadolu Agency]

Lebanon's Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, has rebuked the Hezbollah movement after its Secretary-General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, accused Saudi Arabia of exporting Daesh's ideology and taking aim at King Salman, who he described as a "terrorist".

Taking to Twitter, Mikati said "For God's sake, have mercy on Lebanon and the Lebanese people and stop [fuelling] political and sectarian hatred"

"We have called for adopting the policy of dissociation from Arab disputes and refraining from harming Lebanon's ties with Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia," Mikati said and voiced opposition to what he described as Hezbollah's "trend of positions" that hurt the Lebanese people and the country's ties with its "brothers".

"What … Nasrallah, said about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia tonight does not represent the stance of the Lebanese government or the broader Lebanese population. And it is not in the interest of Lebanon to harm any Arab country, especially Gulf countries," he added.

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Nasrallah made the disparaging remarks on Monday about the Kingdom and its monarch while speaking on the second anniversary of the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani ,who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad, alongside the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

"The terrorist is the one who sent thousands of Saudis to conduct suicide operations in Iraq and Syria, and it's you," Nasrallah said in the televised speech. He also denounced the US over its support for the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen.

"The terrorist is whoever takes hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of Lebanese as hostages and threatens the Lebanese state with evicting them," the Hezbollah leader said, in an apparent response to earlier comments by King Salman last week, which called on Lebanon to end "terrorist Hezbollah's" influence over the state. The current government formed by Mikati in September includes ministers belonging to both Hezbollah and the Amal movement.

The comments also come amid the diplomatic crisis that erupted in October between Lebanon and four Gulf states, led by Riyadh, after former Minister of Information, Youssef Kordahi, condemned the "absurd" Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. Last month, Kordahi resigned from his post, saying he was putting the Nation before his personal interests. Tensions remain, however, despite attempts by the Lebanese government to mend relations with the Gulf states, which included the deportation of Bahraini dissidents. Last month, Mikati said he "rejected using Lebanon as a platform to insult the Kingdom of Bahrain", in addition to other Arab countries.

READ: Lebanon 'under Arab siege': Parliament Speaker

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