Beirut: Anti-Syrian Future Movement leader Sa’ad Hariri lashed out at Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah after the latter delivered two successive speeches within 24 hours, in which he attacked Saudi Arabia.
Hariri accused Nasrallah and Iran of destroying Syria and seeking to partition Yemen in particularly harsh terms, declaring: “Shouting will not cover the hand of Iran and Hezbollah in the destruction of Syrian cities and in the blood of more than a quarter of a million Syrians”.
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi used equally harsh terms when he referred to Nasrallah as a brute, abusing Syrians and killing scores.
“Nasrallah is involved in [shedding] the blood of the Syrian people and [spreading] sectarian strife in the Arab world”, Rifi said on Twitter, and reminded everyone that the Hezbollah leader’s thumping on Saudi Arabia and the Al Saud reflected little more than his opinion.
“Saudi Arabia is a friendly state, and is not in need of any certificate from Iran’s tools”, he said in a thinly-veiled jab at Iran-backed Hezbollah.
Rifi, a rising star among Lebanese Sunnis — a feat accomplished in Tripoli during the last municipal elections — is a staunch critic of Hezbollah and both Bashar Al Assad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
His bold rhetoric against Iran’s destructive agenda in Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world, has been popularly received by many Lebanese who wish to stay under the Arab instead of the Iranian axis.
Many Lebanese, who benefit from close economic ties with Gulf states, want to maintain a healthy relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Hezbollah military intervention in Syria, where it is fighting to keep Bashar Al Assad in power, as well as its training and activity of Al Houthi rebels in Yemen has infuriated Riyadh.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia took measures against Lebanon earlier this year where it issued advisories restricting travel to the country, and the UAE also reduced the number of its diplomats in Beirut
Around 750,000 Lebanese work in the Gulf, and send back home between $7 billion (Dh25.69 billion) to $8 billion in remittances.
Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti daily Al Anba reported that Hezbollah does not wish to see Future Movement leader Sa‘ad Hariri as Prime Minister, which contravenes speculation that the latter and Michel Aoun have agreed on a formula that will usher both men into office in the top two posts.
Unnamed Lebanese sources told the Kuwaiti newspaper that Hariri is reluctant to commit himself to Aoun as long as he does not receive a public confirmation that he will fill the premiership.
While Aoun apparently has no objections, such an appointment is not the next president’s sole decision, but must also receive a green light from Hezbollah.
Rifi opposes both presidential candidates from the pro-Syrian March 8 alliance, Aoun and Sulaiman Franjieh. He backs Army General Jean Qahwaji for the post.
He has been a vocal critic of what he describes as Hariri’s political adventurism.