Last updated: 1 March, 2016

Saudi Arabia should not collectively punish Lebanon, says Hezbollah

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday called on Saudi Arabia not to collectively punish Lebanon's people just because Riyadh disagreed with the Shiite movement's policies.

In a televised address on his group’s Al-Manar network, Nasrallah said Saudi Arabia does not have “the right to sanction the Lebanese people because one particular party took a certain position”.

Last week, Riyadh halted a $3 billion programme funding equipment for Lebanese security forces and urged Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon in response to “hostile” positions linked to Hezbollah.

The withdrawal of Saudi Arabia’s financial aid has sparked a war of words between opponents and supporters of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“If there’s a criminal, I’m the criminal, Hezbollah is the criminal,” Nasrallah said Tuesday.

“If you have a problem with us, you can continue doing so — but what does the rest of the country have to do with it,” he asked.

Nasrallah also accused Saudi Arabia of trying to spark “sedition between Sunni and Shiite Muslims” when it executed Shiite Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on January 2.

Saudi had been carrying out “crimes” in Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain “for the past 10 years, for the past 100 years, since the regime came into power,” Nasrallah said.

“They can start wars and commit massacres… but no one can say anything for fear of sparking Saudi wrath,” he said.

Nasrallah pledged Hezbollah would continue to speak out against what it saw as Saudi aggression in the region.

Riyadh backs the five-year uprising in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad, while Hezbollah has intervened militarily on Assad’s behalf.

“We are happy with the truce and God willing it will persist and lead to a political solution,” said Nasrallah.

Nasrallah said anyone who wanted to come visit Lebanon should feel reassured that “there is no security problem in the country”.