BEIRUT: Accusing Saudi Arabia of being behind last month’s twin suicide bombings against the Iranian Embassy could plunge Lebanon into further sectarian tensions and drag it further into regional conflicts, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt warned Thursday.
He was apparently responding to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, who said in a TV interview Tuesday that a Lebanon-based Al-Qaeda group with direct links to the Saudi intelligence agency was behind the Nov. 19 bombings outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.
The attack, claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, killed 30 people, including an Iranian diplomat, and wounded over 150.
“With regard to the stances that followed the Iranian Embassy bombing, it would have been better to declare that Israel stood behind the bombing similar to the stance taken by the Islamic Republic [of Iran] instead of accusing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Jumblatt said in a statement.
“The declaration of these stances and accusations might lead to dragging the country into further tensions and push Lebanon further into the escalating regional struggles,” he said.
Jumblatt added that accusing Saudi Arabia of responsibility for the attack on the Iranian Embassy would also turn Lebanon once again into “an arena for settling these struggles and exchanging political and security messages and make its security vulnerable.”
Jumblatt urged all political parties not to forget what he called “Israel’s historic hatred against Lebanon.”
Jumblatt’s remarks came a day after President Michel Sleiman dismissed as “reckless” accusations that Saudi Arabia was behind the attack on the Iranian Embassy.
Nasrallah’s accusation also drew fire from former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and March 14 politicians. Hariri accused Nasrallah of stoking tensions and twisting facts by blaming Saudi Arabia for the twin bombings. Some March 14 politicians have said that Nasrallah’s verbal attack on Saudi Arabia thwarted attempts to improve relations between the kingdom and Iran, strained by the 32-month war in Syria, where Riyadh and Tehran back opposing sides.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah urged the rival factions to adopt “a courageous stance” against the “rising takfiri terrorism” in Lebanon. It also accused the March 14 coalition of providing political cover to takfiri groups, according to a statement issued after a meeting by Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc.
“The bloc sees in the rise of takfiri terrorism in Lebanon in general, and the proliferation of militant factions that operate under known powers in and outside the border as a matter that calls on all parties concerned with the survival of the state in Lebanon and the strengthening of the rule of law and its institutions to adopt a courageous national stance ... to confront this dangerous phenomenon that is threatening the Lebanese entity, in addition to threatening the security, stability and diversity of the Lebanese,” the bloc said.
Referring to recurrent fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Tripoli, the bloc said the “aggravating chaos” in the northern city was the result of “the March 14 coalition’s embracing of military commanders and providing a cover to the phenomenon of takfiri groups.”
The bloc underlined the need to form a new Cabinet to run the country’s affairs ahead of the presidential elections in May 2014. It called for the election of a new head of state to avert a vacuum in the presidency seat, when President Michel Sleiman’s six-year-term in office expires on May 25, 2014.
Separately, the Al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) threatened in an audio tape aired by a local television station to send tens and hundreds of suicide bombers to Lebanon in the next few months. A man speaking in the tape threatened caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel for declaring that Islamist inmates would be held in Roumieh prison until they became good citizens.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and Jumblatt’s National Struggle Front stressed the need for the rival factions to engage in Dialogue in order to prevent strife.
“Everyone is worried and fears for the fate of the country amid the circumstances through which the region is passing which are having clear repercussions on the Lebanese situation in these days,” MP Akram Shehayeb told reporters after the two sides met in Parliament.
“We have always called for Dialogue and meeting together. The Parliament is the best place for all the parties to meet and engage in Dialogue that can steer us to the country’s salvation,” he added.