BEIRUT: Iran Friday protested Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk’s recent comments in which he blamed Syrian and Iranian interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs for the wave of violence that has hit the country in recent months.
Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi Friday submitted an official complaint to Prime Minister Tammam Salam over Machnouk’s comments, which were made during the Arab Interior Ministers conference in Marakesh this week.
He said Salam assured him that Machnouk’s statement did not reflect the position of the Lebanese government. Salam also expressed keenness to preserve ties with Tehran, the Iranian envoy said.
Machnouk, from Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, said Hezbollah’s military intervention in the conflict had rendered the Lebanese complicit alongside Bashar Assad’s regime in shedding Syrian blood. He also claimed that Syrian intelligence services were behind the emergence of militant groups in north Lebanon.
“We know that the political and strategic reasons behind the phenomenon of violence stem from Iranian and Syrian interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs, not just now, but for the last three decades,” Machnouk said. “Since the Syrian regime is facing a revolution and Iran faces major challenges, more blood has been shed in Lebanon and Syria, and that is something to be condemned.”
“A major part of the violence that several Arab countries, including Lebanon, suffer from is due to their turbulent relationship with Iran.”
Roknabadi also discussed the matter with President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace.
According to Sleiman’s office, the president said Machnouk’s stances “do not reflect the viewpoint of the Lebanese state, and that Lebanon was keen to have the best ties with Iran on the basis of mutual interest and respect and noninterference in the affairs of the state.”
“Bilateral lines of communication can resolve such problems when they occur,” Sleiman told Roknabadi.
In a response to Roknabadi’s comments, Machnouk said: “The president has set three pillars which should govern Lebanese-Iranian relations, which are common interest, mutual respect and not interfering in the internal affairs of the two countries. My wish is that Iran commits to these three pillars that serve the interests of both countries.”