Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Monday demanded that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stop his verbal attacks against Saudi Arabia, stressing that he will not allow the country to “collapse.”
Salam made the comments in an interview with Al-Arabiya television and was quoted by the Lebanese Naharnet news website.
“Hezbollah played a role in resisting Israel before going abroad and interfering in the affairs of other countries,” he charged, adding, “I call on Nasrallah to stop attacking the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
The comments are a reflection of the growing rift between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, which recently halted a $3 billion program funding equipment for Lebanese security forces and urged Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon in response to "hostile" positions linked to Hezbollah.
Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah are on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict, with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah supporting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad while Saudi Arabia supports the rebels trying to oust him.
Nasrallah last week urged Saudi Arabia not to collectively punish Lebanon's people just because Riyadh disagreed with his movement's policies, accusing the kingdom of trying to spark "sedition between Sunni and Shiite Muslims" and of carrying out "crimes" in Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain "for the past 10 years, for the past 100 years, since the regime came into power.”
He continued this rhetoric on Sunday, accusing Saudi Arabia of sanctioning Hezbollah because it seeks to normalize ties with Israel, and blasting the decision by Gulf States to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
“I tell the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, that the historic ties between us and them will continue and will remain strong and we are exerting efforts to consolidate them,” Salam said on Monday, according to Naharnet.
“We admit that a mistake has happened and has strained the relation between us and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries,” he added.
“We have not been successful in implementing the dissociation policy in a proper manner,” Salam admitted.
He also stressed the “will not allow Lebanon's collapse” and therefore cannot remove Hezbollah from the Lebanese government “because that would subject Lebanon to collapse.”