‘We are Arabs, and Arabs we shall remain’

BEIRUT – Sunni politician Saad al-Hariri said on Sunday Lebanon would never be an “Iranian province” hostile to Saudi Arabia, and attacked Shi’ite Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian war in a speech reflecting regional tensions.

The former prime minister was speaking in Beirut on the 11th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri.

It was only his third visit to the country since the Hezbollah-dominated March 8 alliance toppled his cabinet in 2011. Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which both have powerful influence in Lebanon and support rival political blocs, are contributing to conflicts across the Middle East, including in Syria.

“We will not allow anyone to pull Lebanon to the camp of hostility towards Saudi Arabia and its Arab brothers. Lebanon will not be, under any circumstances, an Iranian province. We are Arabs, and Arabs we shall remain,” said Mr Hariri, who is backed by Saudi Arabia.

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