BEIRUT: Hezbollah indirectly blasted Saudi Arabia Sunday, accusing it of prolonging Lebanon’s political crisis by using its March 14 allies to prevent the formation of a new Cabinet and Parliament from meeting to approve draft laws.
The party also accused an Arab Gulf state – a clear reference to Saudi Arabia – of holding Lebanon hostage to settle political scores with Syria, where the regime of President Bashar Assad has accused Riyadh and other Gulf states, Turkey and Western countries of funding and arming Syrian rebel groups fighting to oust it.
The accusations by Hezbollah, a key ally of Assad, are bound to heighten tensions in Lebanon, where the March 8 and March 14 parties are sharply split over the 31-month conflict in Syria.
The charges come as Lebanon is in the throes of a chronic political crisis, deepened by Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria on the side of Assad’s forces and a Cabinet deadlock which has entered its seventh month with no solution in sight.
In what appeared to be coordinated indirect verbal attacks on Saudi Arabia, a number of Hezbollah lawmakers blamed Riyadh for the Cabinet crisis, Parliament’s failure to meet due to lack of quorum, and the latest outbreak of violence between Assad’s supporters and opponents in the northern city of Tripoli, which left at least 16 people dead and over 80 wounded in seven days.
“It is the right of the Lebanese public to know who is responsible for setting off the situation in Tripoli, hindering the Cabinet formation and preventing Parliament’s legislative sessions,” Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad told a student graduation ceremony in the southern town of Nabatieh.
“There are some regional powers that are exercising a policy of escalation, threatening regional stability and opposing all attempts to find solutions to crises,” Fayyad said. “ Lebanon has been taken a hostage by these escalatory policies at the regional level. Lebanon, a country of civilization, has become a hostage of Bedouin policies based on a vendetta mentality and on sectarian hatred.”
Fayyad criticized the use of oil wealth to fund armed rebel groups in Syria. “This oil, which is a grace from Almighty God and which was supposed to build misery belts spread throughout the Arab world, is feeding the mentality of explosive belts that are threatening civilians and innocent people.”
Two Hezbollah MPs also lashed out at Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal for warning that Lebanon was on the brink of civil war because of Hezbollah’s role in Syria.
“ Lebanon is on the brink of civil war as Hezbollah continues to implement its own agenda without giving any consideration to law and order,” Faisal, a former chief of Saudi intelligence, said during a lecture he delivered at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington on Oct. 22.
Responding to Faisal, Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah told a rally in the southern town of Bint Jbeil: “Some are today telling the Lebanese of a civil war and strife, and inciting for strife and civil war in Lebanon. Why should a civil war happen in Lebanon? Why are those who insist on undermining stability and unity among the Lebanese?”
He claimed that because “a regional-international project” designed to remove Assad from power was defeated in Syria, “they wanted to wreak havoc with regional countries, including Lebanon.”
Referring to the March 14 coalition, Fadlallah said: “There is a Lebanese political group which has a point of reference abroad. This point of reference has issued orders for the situation in Lebanon to be frozen regardless of the negative consequences on the people’s lives.”
Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Musawi also slammed Faisal, blaming the Saudi policy for the paralysis in Parliament and the obstruction of the Cabinet formation.
“What did this lecturer [Faisal] say amounts to threatening Lebanon and the Lebanese. This reveals the policy of this Gulf state toward our country. It is an escalatory subversive policy that puts Lebanon in danger,” Musawi told a memorial ceremony in the southern village of Sowana.
He added that this Gulf state, whom he did not name, was to blame for the paralysis in Lebanon’s constitutional institutions: Parliament and the Cabinet.
“This Gulf state is preventing the formation of a government that reflects the real will of the Lebanese people,” Musawi said.
The Future Movement and its March 14 allies have repeatedly accused Hezbollah of obstructing the formation of a new government with its demand for veto power and its insistence that the tripartite equation, “the Army, the people and the resistance,” be mentioned in the Cabinet’s policy statement.
Caretaker Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil acknowledged that the caretaker Cabinet was unable to meet the people’s demands and called for the formation of a new government.
“We must push for understanding on the formation of a new government that reflects the balance of power and political representation,” Khalil said. “A government capable of taking decisions at a delicate time through which Lebanon is passing as a result of what is happening in the region.”