Adel Al-Jubeir
Adel Al-JubeirReuters

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, on Friday blasted Hezbollah, accusing the group of holding Lebanon hostage and demanding that it disarm.

Al-Jubeir told reporters in Madrid, according to AFP, that Hezbollah was destabilizing Lebanon by maintaining its arsenal and fighters in the Mediterranean nation.

"You cannot have a militia with a military force that operates outside the scope of the government," he was quoted as having told reporters after talks with Spanish counterpart Alfonso Dastis.

"We see Hezbollah hijacking the Lebanese banking system to launder money, we see Hezbollah hijacking Lebanese ports in order to smuggle drugs, we see Hezbollah engaging in terrorist activities and interfering in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen," he charged.

"Unless Hezbollah disarms and becomes a (solely) political party, Lebanon will be held hostage by Hezbollah and by extension Iran. This is not acceptable to us and is not acceptable to the Lebanese," Al-Jubeir made clear.

The tensions between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia over Lebanon has increased in recent days, following the sudden resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri.

Hariri gave a statement from Riyadh two weeks ago in which he announced he was stepping down because he feared for his life while also accusing Iran and Hezbollah of destabilizing Lebanon.

Speculation has swirled around Hariri's prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia since the announcement.

There were rumors that he was under de facto house arrest in Saudi Arabia, but Hariri brushed off those rumors in a television interview this week, saying he is "free" in Saudi Arabia and will return to Lebanon "very soon".

On Tuesday, Hariri said on Twitter that he would return to Lebanon in the next two days, in what was his first personal tweet since he announced his resignation.

Hariri is set to arrive in France over the weekend and meet President Emmanuel Macron, who invited him and his family to Paris.

Hariri on Friday again dismissed all speculation about his situation as "rumors".

"We are supportive of Prime Minister Saad Hariri but we are against Hezbollah's takeover of Lebanon," Al-Jubeir said on Friday, according to AFP.

His comments came a day after reports in British media that Saudi King Salman will step down as soon as next week and name his son as his successor.

The reports, which have not been officially confirmed and were based on an unnamed Saudi source, also said the Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, will lead a new campaign to crush Hezbollah with the assistance of Israel.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)