Iran, Saudi Arabia Try to Restrain Hizbullah in Beirut
Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria are working together in Beirut to maintain calm as the United Nations continues its probe of the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
The U.N. Special Tribunal for Lebanon is reportedly preparing to issue an indictment in the case that left Hariri and 22 others dead.
Although there has been no confirmation, it is widely believed that Hizbullah terrorists will be among those accused of murdering the Lebanese leader. Although it was initially believed that Syria was behind the assassination, the focus of the investigation later was moved.
Arab leaders spoke briefly with reporters Tuesday after a closed luncheon meeting held at the Syrian envoy’s residence in Beirut.
Hizbullah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah has threatened dire repercussions if such an indictment is handed down. The AFP news agency quoted Nasrallah’s second-in-command, Naim Qassam, who warned Tuesday if the tribunal charges Hizbullah members with the crime, it would be “equivalent to lighting the fuse, to igniting the wick for an explosion.”
Hariri’s son, current Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, who is backed by Saudi Arabia, has nevertheless committed himself to completing the investigation.
Saudi Arabian and Iranian ambassadors have been meeting over the issue for quite some time; last week the two held talks in Beirut to discuss diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh. Similar meetings took place simultaneously in Tehran between Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Iran, according to the Naharnet news agency.
The Beirut meeting focused on the two countries’ mutual interest in events in Lebanon, according to Saudi ambassador Ali Awad Asiri, who spoke with reporters after the meeting. The Iranian embassy released a formal statement saying the two ambassadors “expressed their willingness to help strengthen security and stability in Lebanon” and said the two sides had “stressed the need for unity among Lebanese parties.”
The statement, issued to the media by Iranian Ambassador Ghazanfar Rokn-Abadi, added that the two men also “stressed the good relations between Tehran and Riyadh, and the need to use all possibilities to strength these relations to serve the issues of the Islamic nation.”