Top Lebanese Maronite cleric slams Hezbollah for taking part in regional wars

Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai speaks after meeting with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon July 15, 2020. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 17 July 2020

Top Lebanese Maronite cleric slams Hezbollah for taking part in regional wars

CAIRO: Lebanon’s leading Christian cleric has ramped up his condemnation of Hezbollah saying it has always sidelined the Lebanese state at times of war. 
The head of the Lebanese Maronite Christian Church Bechara Rai told Vatican News that the Iran-backed militant group has taken part in wars in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
His remarks are the latest in a string criticism of the heavily armed Hezbollah over its support for Iran in conflicts with Arab states.
Rai said there was a “sort of control from Hezbollah on the Lebanese government and the country’s policies” with its role in regional wars. “Lebanon does not want this.”
Rai said Hezbollah’s interventions have “created a political crisis that contributed to a severe economic and living crisis in the country.” 
“Lebanon is a civil state that operates between the state and religion. Today, for the sake of Lebanon and all Lebanese without any exceptions, there is no solution other than neutrality,” he added.
Lebanon is mired in an economic and political crisis that has left the economy close to collapse.
Hezbollah backs the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab, but its support has alienated Beirut from countries in the region and the West.
The group is considered a terrorist organisation in the US, Europe and other countries.


Erdogan: Turkey resumes energy exploration in east Mediterranean

Updated 52 min 5 sec ago

Erdogan: Turkey resumes energy exploration in east Mediterranean

  • Turkey and Greece have long been at loggerheads over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources

ISTANBUL: President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey had resumed energy exploration work in the eastern Mediterranean as Greece had not kept its promises regarding such activities in the region.
NATO members Turkey and Greece have long been at loggerheads over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources and tensions flared up last month, prompting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to hold talks with the country’s leaders to ease tensions.
“We have started drilling work again,” Erdogan told reporters after participating in Friday prayers at the Hagia Sophia mosque. “We don’t feel obliged to talk with those who do not have rights in maritime jurisdiction zones.”
He said Turkey’s Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, a seismic survey vessel, had been sent to the region to carry out its duties. The ship moved into waters off Cyprus in late July and remains in that region.
Erdogan made the comments when asked about an accord signed by Egypt and Greece on Thursday designating an exclusive economic zone between the two nations in the east Mediterranean.
Diplomats in Greece said their agreement nullified an accord reached last year between Turkey and the internationally recognized government of Libya.
However, Erdogan said the Egypt-Greece accord was of no value and that Turkey would sustain its agreement with Libya “decisively.” The Turkish Foreign Ministry has said the Egypt-Greece zone falls in the area of Turkey’s continental shelf.
Turkey and Greece are also at odds over a range of issues from flights over each other’s territory in the Aegean Sea to ethnically divided Cyprus.