The U.S. Secretary Tillerson has finally spoken out against Saudi Arabia move to turn Lebanon into a proxy conflict zone.
Lebanon has been under fierce political crisis after the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
The Lebanese militant Shia group Hezbollah group and its regional ally Iran has demanded that Mr. Hariri has resigned under pressure from the Saudi regime.
The U.S. Secretary Tillerson said in a statement, “There is no legitimate place or role in Lebanon for any foreign forces, militias or armed elements other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state.”
“The United States strongly supports the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Lebanon and of its political institutions,” he added.
Mr. Secretary also added, “The United States urges all parties both within Lebanon and outside to respect the integrity and independence of Lebanon’s legitimate national institutions, including the Government of Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces.”
Addressing Hariri as the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Tillerson said, “In this regard, we respect Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri as a strong partner of the United States.”
Mr. Tillerson warned, “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.”
The U.S. Secretary, however, took six days to respond to the Hariri crisis allegedly triggered by the U.S. ally Saudi Arabia “to turn Lebanon into a conflict zone against Hezbollah and Iran.”
Lebanon encountered an awkward political deadlock after Prime Minister Hariri announced his resignation from Riyadh fearing for his life.
The Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned in fear for his life in a televised broadcast. He accused Iran of destruction and breeding fear in some countries of Middle East including Lebanon.
He said in his resignation speech, “I refer, frankly and unequivocally, to Iran, which plants sedition, devastation and ruin, which is attested to by its interference in the internal affairs of the Arab nation, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen – driven by a deep hatred of the Arab nation and an overwhelming desire to destroy and control it.”
Saudi Arabia later advised their citizens to leave Lebanon immediately. In a statement published on Saudi news agency SPA, Saudi Arabia advised their citizens not to travel Lebanon from any other destinations.
Following the Saudi move, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also advised their citizens not to travel Lebanon and leave the country as soon as possible.
The SPA statement reads, “Due to the situations in the Republic of Lebanon, the official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Saudi nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon are asked to leave the country as soon as possible. The Kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations.”
The other Saudi ally Bahrain already ordered their citizens to leave Lebanon for safety considerations.
Yesterday, after continuous moves by the Saudi bloc, Lebanese militia group Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said, “In short, it is clear that Saudi Arabia and Saudi officials have declared war on Lebanon and on Hezbollah in Lebanon, but I have to say this is a war on Lebanon.”
The international community has highly stressed to de-escalate the ongoing tension in Lebanon. The UN Secretary-General warned ‘devastating consequences’ if new conflict strikes the region.
The French President Emmanuel Macron also paid an unscheduled visit to Saudi Arabia to talk about the ongoing escalation of Lebanese tension.