Saudi Arabia says Lebanon has declared war because of what it calls Hezbollah's acts of aggression against it. It's a dramatic escalation of a regional crisis that threatens to destabilise Lebanon. Lucy Fielder reports
Lebanon has declared war, says Saudi Arabia, Because of what it describes as aggression by Hezbollah. Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan's comments are a dramatic escalation of a crisis that threatens to destabilise tiny Lebanon, This fragile country - where one in four people is a Syrian refugee - is in the cross-hairs of regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Especially since the Saudi-backed prime minister, Saad Al-Hariri, resigned in a statement broadcast from Riyadh at the weekend. Hezbollah participated in his government, but it is allied to Iran. Its guerrilla army, more powerful than the national one, is playing a major role in the war in neighbouring Syria, shoring up government forces. That's another arena for the proxy war between Tehran and Riyadh. Al-Sabhan said Hezbollah's actions constituted aggression against Saudi Arabia, and the government would be considered - quote - "a government which has declared war". Hariri's resignation shocked even his aides. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called it a "Saudi statement" and said Riyadh had forced him to do it. The sudden nature of billionaire Hariri's announcement stirring speculation in Lebanon that he'd been caught up in an anti-corruption purge in Saudi Arabia. And had been coerced. But Saudi's foreign minister said Monday that Hariri was protesting to Hezbollah "calling the shots" in his government. Hariri's power-sharing government took over a year ago and was heralded for ending years of political deadlock. Al-Sabhan did not spell out what action it might take against Lebanon.