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Anger in Lebanon over ‘arrogant’ Iranian president

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri attends a general parliament discussion in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, in this October 18, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
BEIRUT: Lebanese politicians accused the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of arrogance on Tuesday after he claimed dominance over the region.
“No decisive actions can be taken in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, North Africa and the Gulf region without Iran’s consent,” Rouhani said in a speech in Tehran on Monday.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri described Rouhani’s speech as unacceptable. “Lebanon is an independent Arab state that accepts no guardianship and refuses whatever undermines its dignity,” he said
The Future Movement Bloc, which has 33 members of Parliament, said Rouhani’s statement was describing it as “arrogant” and “vaunting.”
“It is now obvious that Iran aspires to take control of Lebanon and the region. Several Iranian officials have expressed this wish over the past few years, and we were misled into thinking that they were moderate and open-minded.” the MPs said.
Former Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb said: “Let everyone keep their hands off Lebanon. Leave the country to its government and institutions; they alone can determine its fate.”
The former Justice Minister, Ashraf Rifi, criticized the failure of President Michel Aoun to respond. His “silence in the face of Rouhani’s insult is unacceptable and humiliating,” Rifi said.
Hikmat Dib, an MP from the Change and Reform bloc, said Rouhani’s statement was a response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Iran’s influence in the Middle East has become a reality and it is exerted in Lebanon through Hezbollah; however, this does not mean that all decisions taken in Lebanon should pass by Iran first. We are a sovereign country and refuse this logic.”
Dib said that, despite its affiliation to Iran, Hezbollah had always stressed that the Iranian leadership did not intervene in internal Lebanese affairs. “We must appreciate Hezbollah’s role in defeating occupation and fighting terrorism,” he said. “We must also protect internal stability and spare Lebanon regional tensions that result from the intensification of regional conflicts.”
Nadim Gemayel, a member of the Kataeb bloc, said: “Rouhani’s speech proves that everything we said about the new guardianship over Lebanon and the scope of Iran’s influence is true. Al-Hariri’s response to Rouhani was good but it was not enough; the president, who is entrusted with Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, must take a clear and open stance toward this matter.”

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