UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he has serious concerns over escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, and that it is essential to avert new conflict in the region. Hundreds of Persian Gulf states citizens are leaving Beirut as quickly as they can, fearing the worst, Euro News reported. “It is a matter of great […]
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he has serious concerns over escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, and that it is essential to avert new conflict in the region.
Hundreds of Persian Gulf states citizens are leaving Beirut as quickly as they can, fearing the worst, Euro News reported.
“It is a matter of great concern to us. What we want is for peace to be preserved in Lebanon, it is essential that no new conflict erupts in the region, it would have devastating consequences,” he warned former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri who is in Saudi Arabia, from where he made his dramatic resignation prompted, say some, by foreign pressure. He claimed he was in fear of his life.
Hezbollah accused Saudi Arabia of declaring war on Lebanon and the Iran-backed group on Friday. He insisted the Saudis had twisted al-Hariri’s arm to quit and were detaining him to destabilize the country.
“If your problem’s with Iran, why attack, destroy and sabotage Lebanon just to prove your influence? We admit, you have influence, but if your goal is to defeat the Lebanese or the Lebanese resistance or political parties who refuse to obey you, then you are mistaken,” said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
France is positioning itself as a broker between the Riyadh and Tehran, but neutrality may leave it with little leverage.
Tillerson Warns Against Proxy Conflicts
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned other countries Friday against using Lebanon for “proxy conflicts”, AFP reported.
Tillerson also called the premier, Saad Hariri a “strong partner” of the United States.
“The United States cautions against any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country,” Tillerson said in a statement.
Earlier Friday, while traveling in Asia, Tillerson told reporters he had received assurances from the Saudis that Hariri himself had decided to resign.
Tillerson also said he had no indication that Hariri was being held against his will in the oil-rich kingdom.
Concern Over Stability
But he also expressed concern over what effect the resignation might have on the stability of the Lebanese government, which is composed of Christians and both Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
Tillerson said this structure had been able to maintain some degree of calm and peace in Lebanon, and that if this balance of power were disrupted, things might change.
“The United States strongly supports the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Lebanon and of its political institutions” and opposes “any actions that could threaten that stability,” Tillerson’s statement on Friday reads.
Call for Clarity Over Hariri
Lebanon’s president called on Saudi Arabia on Saturday to clarify the reasons preventing Hariri returning to Beirut, his office said, TRT reported.
“Lebanon does not accept its prime minister being in a situation at odds with international treaties and the standard rules in relations between states,” President Michel Aoun said.
Aoun also told Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Lebanon on Friday that Hariri must return to the country, Lebanese media reported.