Lebanon’s PM Mikati issues rare criticism of Hezbollah

i24NEWS - Reuters

3 min read
Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, September 24, 2021.
AP Photo/Francois MoriLebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, September 24, 2021.

Mikati demands an end to 'the hateful sectarian and political rhetoric'

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati delivered a sharp rebuke to the head of the country’s Hezbollah faction on Monday, arguing the group’s stance on Saudi Arabia is against Beirut’s national interest.

The criticism arrived following a speech delivered Monday by Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general.

During his remarks, the Hezbollah official called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman a terrorist and claimed that the ruler is responsible for the spread of Islamic extemism.

“Your highness the king, the terrorist is (the side) who exported Wahhabi-Daeshi ideology to the world and they are you,” Nasrallah announced, using an acronym for the Islamic State, according to The Washington Post.

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Lebanon’s premier responded to the statement by attempting to dismiss Nasrallah’s speech, emphasizing that the allegation does not reflect Beirut’s official stance on Saudi Arabia.

“What... Nasrallah said about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia this evening does not represent the position of the Lebanese government and most Lebanese,” Mikati said, adding that “It is not in Lebanon's interest to offend any Arab country, especially the Gulf states.”

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"For God's sake, have mercy on Lebanon and the Lebanese people and stop the hateful sectarian and political rhetoric."

Riyadh and Beirut entered a period of diplomatic crisis after Lebanon’s former information minister, George Kordahi, criticized Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemen conflict.

The ex-official’s remarks prompted the kingdom to expel Beirut’s ambassador and institute a trade embargo on imports from Lebanon, which is still in the midst of an economic crisis.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait also imposed their own bans on Lebanese imports, and recalled their respective envoys to Beirut.