Saudi Arabia makes a reassuring statement as Lebanese tensions rise over a port explosion
BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Waleed Bukhari, told Lebanese religious figures on Tuesday that the kingdom âcares about security, stability, institutions and coexistence between Christians and Muslims in Lebanonâ.
The Saudi embassy media office said: “There is no legitimacy for the discourse of dispute, nor for one that violates Lebanon’s Arab identity.”
This was the first Saudi declaration since the bloody clashes in Tayouneh on October 14th.
At least seven people were killed in the violence in Beirut in a protest organized by Hezbollah and its allies against the chief judge who investigated the explosion in the city’s port last year.
Demonstrators gathered by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement called for Judge Tarek Bitar to be removed from the investigation.
According to the embassy statement, Lebanese Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian âexpressed his appreciation for the kingdom led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Lebanon and its people will never be, despite the unfair attitude of some Lebanese towards the kingdom has let down “. Parties that only represent themselves. “
Sheikh Derian added that “despite all offensive speeches, Saudi-Lebanese relations have always been and will remain solid because our relations are above those speeches and Saudi Arabia will always view Lebanon as an Arab fraternal country.”
The statement comes after the secret service directorate summoned the chief of the Lebanese armed forces, Samir Geagea, to the Ministry of Defense on Wednesday as part of the investigation into the bloodshed in Tayouneh.
The summons was the motivation for the spontaneous visits of the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi on Tuesday to the President of Parliament Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun.
Al-Rahi condemned “Geagea’s subpoena by the Secret Service Directorate only to testify.”
Charles Jabbour of the Lebanese Armed Forces Party told Arab News that âGeagea will not appear at the Defense Ministry on Wednesday.
âYou should start by calling Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. All parties should testify, starting with the party that called for the demonstration. Only if a judge dares to summon Nasrallah will we be able to talk about a state and a judiciary in Lebanon. “
The attempt to summon Geagea was condemned by several politicians.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri refused to “engage in an absurd conflict and on the front lines of civil war and sectarian divisions”.
He added, “The announcement that Dr. Geagea has been informed of a plastered notice to appear before the Directorate of Intelligence is absurd and is leading the country into further division, along with the use of state machines for revenge policy.”
Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora also condemned “the bias of the judicial authorities of the Military Tribunal regarding the deplorable events in Tayouneh and the continuing violations of the constitutions by those charged with preserving and protecting them”.
Siniora rejected “the practices that aim to use the judiciary for reprisals against political opponents, and not for its main task: seeking the truth and achieving justice”.
The leader of the Progressive Socialist Party in Lebanon, Walid Jumblat, criticized the “selectivity instead of a transparent and fair investigation for a comprehensive justice”.
He said: “Anyone who fired shots at the Tayouneh events should be arrested without discrimination and this destructive and pointless political argument must end.”
Samy Gemayel, the leader of the Lebanese Kataeb party, announced his rejection of “all means that Hezbollah and the Amal movement have taken to obstruct the investigation into the explosion in the port of Beirut”.
Hezbollah accused Geagea of ââfiring the first shot on October 14 at protesters who entered the anti-Hezbollah and Christian-majority Ain Remaneh area.
Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who is also a defendant in the investigation into the Beirut port explosion, visited Sheikh Derian on Tuesday and reiterated his demand âeither to lift the immunity of all without exception or to allow the legal and constitutional mechanisms in place in the Supreme Council take over”. for the process of presidents and ministers. “
So far, all politicians accused of involvement in the Beirut port explosion have refused to appear before Judge Bitar.
The Amal Movement and Hezbollah ministers have refused to attend cabinet meetings unless Judge Bitar is ousted and the investigation into Tayouneh’s situation is stopped.
Prime Minister Mikati on Tuesday hoped that “cabinet meetings will resume as soon as possible to take the necessary decisions to activate the work of the commissions and committees and do what is needed by the government”.
Mikati added that he hoped his government would “monitor the parliamentary elections with full integrity so that these elections can renew political life in Lebanon”.
The mixed parliamentary committees held a meeting on Tuesday and voted to keep the electoral law, rejecting Aoun’s proposed amendment.
Aoun objected to the March 27 elections and the proposals to change the electoral formula for expatriates by removing the six seats for Lebanese voters living abroad.