Speaking about Saturday’s resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani blasted Saudi Arabia for what he called its “unprecedented” meddling in Lebanese politics, charging that it had forced Hariri to step down, Iran’s semi-official PressTV news reported Wednesday.
In remarks directed at Saudi Arabia at a cabinet meeting, Rouhani said regarding Saudi Arabia, “Why are you interfering in Lebanon’s affairs and [in its] government? We cannot find an instance throughout history where a country meddling in the affairs of another country by apparently forcing the head of that country to resign. This is unprecedented in the history of the region.”
Rouhani defended Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Syria, claiming that his nation was responding to requests to help their neighbors fight terror. He defended the Houthi missile attack on Saudi Arabia as an act of self-defense.
In the latest development over the tensions generated by Iran’s aggression across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia ordered all of its citizens out of Lebanon and urged its citizens not to visit there either.
Not all Iranian officials are as reticent about Iran’s foreign adventures. Shortly after the Houthis, a Yemeni rebel group that’s backed by Iran, captured Sanaa, the capital of Yemen three years ago, Ali Riza Zakani, a prominent Iranian parliamentarian boasted that Iran controlled four Arab capitals – the other three being Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad.
In his resignation speech, Hariri condemned Iran for meddling in Lebanese politics and creating a “state within a state” through its proxy, Hezbollah. He also expressed fear that his life was in danger.
In 2005, Hariri’s father Rafiq, was assassinated. Five members of Hezbollah have been indicted by a United Nations tribunal in the killing of the elder Hariri.
Hariri’s resignation ended any illusions that Lebanon was anything other than “an Iranian satrapy run by Hezbollah,” Tony Badran, an expert on Lebanon and research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote earlier this week.