Bloomberg: Saudi Arabia warned Iran that its support for a "coup" in Lebanon by the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group will harm relations with Arab states.
By Tarek Al-Issawi
May 13 (Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia warned Iran that its support for a "coup" in Lebanon by the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group will harm relations with Arab states.
"Iran is supporting the coup that happened in Lebanon and this will affect Tehran's relations with Arab states, if not Muslim states as well," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said today in a televised news conference.
He accused Hezbollah of planning the attack on Beirut and using political issues as an excuse to start the violence. "If this wasn't pre-planned, I don't know what is," al-Faisal said.
Violence in Lebanon broke out May 7 after the government discovered an electronic surveillance system used by Hezbollah to monitor Beirut's international airport and fired the head of security there. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose group fought a 33-day war against Israel in 2006, said the system is needed to protect Lebanon from an Israeli invasion.
Hezbollah, which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist group, withdrew its fighters from western neighborhoods of Beirut two days ago after the government backed down on a threat to disrupt the system and a previously covert telephone network.
Saudi Arabia urged regional powers to stop interfering in Lebanon, where, according to the International Red Cross, the fighting has killed at least 39 people.
Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Beirut, Abdel Aziz Khoja, "until things settle down, but the Embassy remains open," al-Faisal said.
The U.S. has vowed that Iran and Syria won't be allowed to dominate Lebanon.
"The international community will not allow the Iranian and Syrian regimes, via their proxies, to return Lebanon to foreign domination and control," President George W. Bush said late yesterday in a statement.
Saudi Arabia and Lebanon are close allies. Saudi Arabia brokered a peace deal that ended Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, and has invested in the country's reconstruction.
Home to Islam's two holiest sites and a predominantly Sunni Muslim population, Saudi Arabia considers itself the leader of the Islamic world and views Shiite-Muslim Iran as a threat to its role as a key powerbroker in the region.