Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Friday accused Saudi Arabia of “inciting Israel to strike Lebanon,” adding that the current government should stay in place until Prime Minister Saad Hariri submits a formal resignation.
“Saudi Arabia is inciting the Lebanese against each other and inciting Arab countries to take escalatory measures against Lebanon. It also incited world countries against Lebanon, but what's more dangerous is inciting Israel to strike Lebanon. This is not an analysis but rather based on confirmed information,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech.
He alleged that the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah had happened at “Saudi Arabia's request,” while accusing Riyadh of pressing Israel to prolong the war.
“I warn the Israelis against any attempt to take advantage of the situation,” he added.
Reiterating that war with Israel is unlikely, Nasrallah said Hizbullah is watching carefully for any Israeli attempts to use the crisis.
Nasrallah appeared to be calming a seemingly jittery population following Saudi Arabia's latest escalation against Hizbullah's backer Iran. The resignation of Hariri from Saudi Arabia last week was seen as a move by Riyadh to take its rivalry with Iran to tiny Lebanon.
Many fear the escalation will pave the way for Israel to strike against Hizbullah, against which Israel has fought a number of wars. Nasrallah warned Israel against "miscalculation."
He said Israel should not think "we are troubled. No, absolutely not."
"Today we are more confident and feeling stronger in the face of any threat," said Nasrallah.
Turning to the issue of Hariri's resignation, Hizbullah's leader said “Saudi Arabia's move was an unprecedented interference in Lebanon's affairs. The entire world now knows that Hariri was forced to resign.”
“There is a Saudi attempt to remove Hariri from the leadership of al-Mustaqbal Movement... Al-Mustaqbal Movement is being forced to endorse a new leader and there is an attempt to impose a new premier on Lebanon and the Lebanese people,” Nasrallah warned.
“We condemn the blatant Saudi interference in Lebanese affairs and this humiliating behavior with PM Saad Hariri,” he said.
Commenting on the statement that was issued Thursday by Mustaqbal on the need for Hariri to return to Lebanon, Nasrallah added: “We join our voice to that of al-Mustaqbal Movement on the need for Hariri to return to Lebanon... He can return to Lebanon to take the stance he wants and say whatever he wants.”
“Lebanon's prime minister is detained in Saudi Arabia and prohibited from returning,” Nasrallah decried.
As for the issue of forming a new government, Nasrallah described Hariri's resignation as “illegitimate and unconstitutional” because it “happened under duress.”
“The current government is still in place and it is legitimate and not resigned. The ministers are not caretaker ministers and there is no meaning for parliamentary consultations now as some conspirators are demanding. We will conduct parliamentary consultations when the government resigns in a constitutional manner,” Nasrallah added.
Moreover, Nasrallah denied Saudi accusations that Hizbullah was involved in the firing of a missile from Yemen at Riyadh, saying the Yemenis themselves “now have a high capability to manufacture missiles.”
Nasrallah also admitted that “Saudi Arabia and Iran both have influence in Lebanon.”
“But the core difference is that Saudi Arabia interferes in Lebanese affairs. Iran does not interfere at all in Lebanese affairs and it does not use its influence to obtain Iranian privileges in Lebanon,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia cannot confront Iran directly, that's why it is taking out its anger on Lebanon and intimidating it to prove that it has influence... If the objective is to subjugate Lebanon, it is mistaken, and it will fail the same as it failed in all arenas,” Nasrallah went on to say.
“If the objective is to punish Hizbullah and eradicate it, no one can eradicate Hizbullah, no matter what Saudi Arabia does,” he stressed.
Addressing Saudi Arabia, Nasrallah added: “Do you want to rescue the Lebanese people the same as you are rescuing the Yemeni people through starving them, killing them and crushing their bones?”
“If they want to punish Hizbullah, I can give them a plan. Let them brainstorm a bit and they'll find the solution. They can punish Hizbullah without punishing the Lebanese people, unless they are driven by blind hatred,” Nasrallah added.
Hariri had announced his resignation on Saturday in a surprising and pre-recorded statement from Saudi Arabia.
In a haltingly delivered address, Hariri accused Iran of meddling in Arab affairs and Iran-backed Hizbullah of holding Lebanon hostage. He also said he feared for his life.
In his absence, Lebanon has been awash with speculation the prime minister may be held against his will in Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials have denied Hariri is under house arrest.
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