Reuters: Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday Iranian-backed Hezbollah's routing of the Western-backed government's supporters in Lebanon would affect the Islamic Republic's ties with Arab countries.
By Souhail Karam
RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday Iranian-backed Hezbollah's routing of the Western-backed government's supporters in Lebanon would affect the Islamic Republic's ties with Arab countries.
"Of course, for Iran to back the coup that happened in Lebanon and support it will have an impact on its relations with all Arab countries," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said at a news conference.
Lebanon's army stepped up patrols on Tuesday as part of a drive to restore order after a week of fighting between Hezbollah fighters and pro-government gunmen.
Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Muslim movement backed by Iran and Syria, and its opposition allies have routed supporters of the Sunni-led government in Beirut and hills to the east in fighting that has pushed Lebanon to the brink of a new civil war.
Prince Saud said his country, a Sunni Muslim power and strong backer of the Lebanese government, was gravely concerned about what he called the "coup" that had taken place in Lebanon.
In an apparent reference to Iran and Syria, he called on regional players not to interfere in Lebanon's political affairs and undermine its sovereignty.
"The kingdom expresses its grave concern over the continuing armed confrontations in Lebanon and their spread to many Lebanese areas and cities and its strong regret over Lebanese arms being turned inwards against the Lebanese, the nation and its institutions," he said.
"The kingdom renews its calls to all regional sides to respect the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon and to desist from interfering in its internal affairs and provoking sectarian strife…"
Lebanon was experiencing its calmest day since violence flared on May 7 after Prime Minister Fouad Siniora outlawed Hezbollah's communications network and fired Beirut airport's security chief, who is close to the Shi'ite group.
Hezbollah said this was a declaration of war and swiftly took over much of Beirut, crushing pro-government Sunni Muslim gunmen. It then handed over its gains to the army.
Faisal warned against a continuation of the violence and backed an Arab League call for the withdrawal of armed elements from the streets of Lebanon.
"We call on all Lebanese sides to respond to the honest efforts of the Arab League … to resolve the Lebanese crisis according to the Arab initiative that aims to launch Lebanese political dialogue rather than rockets and bullets between Lebanese," he said.