Tillerson warns against Lebanon proxy wars after Hariri crisis

From BBC - November 10, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned other countries against using Lebanon for proxy conflicts, following a crisis triggered by the resignation of its prime minister, Saad Hariri.

Iran and its Lebanese ally, the militant Shia group Hezbollah, claim the Saudis detained Mr Hariri and forced his resignation.

Mr Tillerson said he had received assurances that Mr Hariri is free.

Mr Hariri resigned a week ago while in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

"There is no legitimate place or role in Lebanon for any foreign forces, militias or armed elements other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state," Mr Tillerson said in a statement.

"The United States strongly supports the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Lebanon and of its political institutions," he added.

Mr Tillerson encouraged the prime minister to return to Lebanon and clarify the situation so the government could function, expressing concern about how the crisis might affect the stability of the fragile coalition.

The delay in response from America's top diplomat - it took him six days to respond to the crisis - has renewed criticism that the US lacks a strategy for the crucial region.

Under the direction of Saudi Arabia's crown prince and heir to the throne Mohammed bin Salman, a new anti-corruption body last week detained 11 of the kingdom's princes, four sitting ministers and dozens of ex-ministers.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday to say he had "great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing..."

Appearing to contradict the president, not for the first time, Mr Tillerson said on Friday: "My own view is that it does, it raises a few concerns until we see more clearly how these particular individuals are dealt with."

'War on Lebanon'

Responding to Mr Hariri's resignation, the leader of Hezbollah on Friday accused Saudi Arabia of declaring war on his country.

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