Lebanon crisis

In rare instance, Lebanese government rebukes Hezbollah and its leader

“For God’s sake, have mercy on Lebanon and the Lebanese people and stop [fueling] political and sectarian hatred,” PM Najib Mikati said in a series of tweets.

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Lebanon’s government hit out at Hezbollah on Monday, shortly after the group’s leader made disparaging comments about Saudi Arabia.

With the rare condemnation of the Iran-backed group by the Lebanese state, Prime Minister Najib Mikati implored for a halt to the fueling of “political and sectarian hatred.”

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“For God’s sake, have mercy on Lebanon and the Lebanese people and stop [fueling] political and sectarian hatred,” Mikati said in a series of tweets.

Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia and its leadership of supporting terrorists and trying to make Lebanon a “Gulf emirate.”

He also claimed that Saudi Arabia sent suicide bombers to Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Nasrallah was speaking on the second anniversary of the slaying of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a US drone strike after he arrived in Baghdad. He was killed alongside the deputy leader of Iran-backed militias in Iraq.

Mikati voiced opposition to Hezbollah’s “trend of positions” that hurt the Lebanese population “first” and Lebanon’s ties with its “brothers, second.”

“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.

“What the secretary-general of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan 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.

Iran has formed proxies or armed militias in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria.

Hezbollah has enjoyed increased sway over the Lebanese government in recent years and continues to possess arms outside of the state’s control. Palestinian refugee camps, outside of the state’s authority, are also filled with weapons.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian war and Hezbollah’s support for the Houthis in Yemen, Lebanon’s ties with Gulf countries have soured.

Saudi Arabia pulled its ambassador from Beirut, and several other Gulf nations followed suit last year after a Lebanese minister voiced support for the Houthis and criticized Saudi Arabia.

Read more: Lebanon’s information minister resigns after Saudi Arabia comments

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