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Saudi FM: Hezbollah holding Lebanon hostage, uses its banks to launder money

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, left, laughs during a joint press conference with his Spanish counterpart Alfonso Dastis in Madrid during an official visit to Spain on Friday. (AFP)
MADRID: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Friday accused Hezbollah, which Riyadh blames for the shock resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, of holding Lebanon hostage and using its banks to launder money.
Adel Al-Jubeir told reporters in Madrid that the Shiite group was destabilising 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 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 added.
“Unless Hezbollah disarms and becomes a (solely) political party, Lebanon will be held hostage by Hezbollah and by extension Iran,” he said.
“This is not acceptable to us and is not acceptable to the Lebanese.”
Lebanon, long abused by regional powers seeking to exert influence, was plunged into uncertainty this month after Hariri’s shock resignation, announced on television from Riyadh.
Hariri said he was stepping down because of Hezbollah and Iran’s “grip” over his country.
“We are supportive of Prime Minister Saad Hariri but we are against Hezbollah’s takeover of Lebanon,” Al-Jubeir said.
Hariri was expected to leave Saudi Arabia for France later Friday, a move aimed at defusing political turmoil sparked by his resignation.

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