Hezbollah chief slams Saudi Arabia for Lebanon diplomatic rift

Hassan Nasrallah calls Saudi claims of Hezbollah hegemony in Lebanon ‘nonsense’.

In this Nov. 3, 2014 file photo, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah addresses supporters ahead of the Shiite Ashura commemorations, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon. The leader of Hezbol
Hassan Nasrallah dismissed calls for the departure of embattled Information Minister George Kordahi [File: Hussein Malla/AP Photo]

Beirut, Lebanon – Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has blasted Saudi Arabia for trying to stir instability in Lebanon amid a weeks-long diplomatic dispute between the latter and several Gulf countries.

In a televised speech on Thursday, Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of violating Lebanese sovereignty and dismissed calls for the departure of embattled Information Minister George Kordahi.

“Hezbollah supports the information minister’s position of not resigning,” Nasrallah said, adding that he also opposed the idea of Kordahi being sacked from his position. “Rejecting external dictates is one of the simplest manifestations of sovereignty.”

The diplomatic crisis was sparked last month after video footage circulated online from an August interview in which Kordahi made critical remarks about the Saudi-led coalition’s war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The former game show host said the Iran-aligned Houthis are “defending themselves … against an external aggression”, earning praise from Iran-backed Hezbollah.

In response, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain recalled their envoys from Beirut and expelled their Lebanese ambassadors.

Saudi Arabia, which considers Hezbollah a “terrorist” organisation, also banned all imports from Lebanon, accusing it of failing to take measures to “stop the export of the scourge of drugs”. Bahrain and the UAE have called on their citizens to leave the country, while Yemen’s internationally recognised government has also since recalled its envoy from Beirut.

“[Hezbollah] made Lebanon an arena and a launching pad for implementing projects of countries that do not wish well for Lebanon and its brotherly people,” a Saudi statement issued on October 29 read.

Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of trying to destabilise cash-strapped Lebanon and spark a civil war through their allies and “serve American and Israeli interests”.

“They have a problem with their allies because they want them to fight Hezbollah and wage a civil war in Lebanon,” Nasrallah said. “And in Lebanon, they either do not want a civil war or they are unable to take on one.”

He also dismissed Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s remarks that Hezbollah has hegemony over Lebanon as “nonsense”.

“Others have more influence than us in the state, in the judiciary, the army, the security forces, and administrations,” Nasrallah said, noting that Hezbollah has been unable to remove Beirut port explosion investigator Judge Tarek Bitar, have Iranian fuel tankers dock directly in Lebanon, or fully restore ties with the Syrian government.

Saudi Arabia has distanced itself from Lebanon in recent years, often criticising it for Hezbollah’s growing influence in Lebanese politics.

Kordahi was appointed by the Marada Movement, a Christian party closely allied to Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Source: Al Jazeera