Lebanon crisis sparks regional row

Ahmadinejad rejects Saudi accusations of Iranian interference in the country.

    Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said Iran was supporting the opposition in Lebanon [AFP]

    "The kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] renews its calls to all regional sides to respect the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon and to desist from interfering in its internal affairs and provoking sectarian strife."
    Iranian denial
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, rejected the Saudi accusations.
    "Iran is the only country not interfering in Lebanon," he told a news conference later during the day.
    In depth

    Timeline: Lebanon in crisis

    Who's who: Lebanese politics

    Experts weigh in

    Fighting divides Mount Lebanon

    Instead, Ahmadinejad said the United States should stop meddling in Lebanon's affairs.
    "It is quite clear, almost all Lebanese politicians said ... we do not have ethnic or religious war. It is the war of the innocent people of Lebanon against [US president] Bush's expansionism."
    Lebanon, meanwhile, experienced a day of relative calm.
    After fighting broke out early on Tuesday in the northern city of Tripoli, the army stepped up street patrols in an attempt to restore order.
    A week of clashes between armed groups supporting the government and the opposition, which is led by the Hezbollah, have left at least 62 people dead and nearly 200 injured.
    The violence erupted after Fouad Siniora, Lebanon's prime minister, outlawed Hezbollah's communications network and fired Beirut airport's security chief over ties to the group.
    Hezbollah called the move a declaration of war and opposition forces largely routed government supporters in Beirut and hills to the east before handing the areas over to army control. 
    'Syrian hegemony'
    Following the remarks by the Saudi foreign minister, Saad al-Hariri, Lebanon's parliamentary majority leader, criticised Hezbollah's actions on Tuesday.
    Your Views

    What does the future hold for Lebanon?

    Send us your views

    Al-Hariri said the government would not negotiate with the opposition "with guns to our heads" and accused Hezbollah of "occupying Beirut upon the orders of Iran and Syria".
    He said: "They [the opposition] expect us to surrender and then sit at a round table to negotiate so they can impose their ongoing conditions on us ... this will not happen."
    "Simply, they [the opposition] want to return Syrian hegemony to Lebanon, whose regime killed Rafiq al-Hariri," he said, referring to the assassination of his father - a former prime minister - in 2005.
    Presidential elections
    Sherine Tadros, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Lebanon, said: "Despite the tough talk, it looks as though the pro-government camp is close to yielding to the demands of the opposition.
    "It's likely the cabinet will meet soon to revoke the two controversial decisions that led to the outbreak of violence."
    The major issue that needs to be resolved though, between the government and the opposition, is securing the election of General Michel Suleiman, commander of the army, as president.
    Both sides have agreed on Suleiman in principle as president, but thus far have not struck a deal over a new government and a law for next year's parliamentary elections.
    An Arab League delegation is due to arrive in Beirut on Wednesday to help find a solution to the crisis.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Pick your team and answer as many correct questions in three minutes.

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Remembering Chernobyl

    Remembering Chernobyl

    The fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion remains as politicised as ever, 28 years on.