"(Hizbullah leader Hassan) Nasrallah is like (former Israeli Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon – they both invaded Beirut," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said during a recent Arab League conference in Cairo on the sectarian violence in Lebanon.
Al-Faisal was referring to the first Lebanon war, during which Sharon served as Israel's defense minister.
The Saudi FM's comments were published Tuesday by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar. "The legitimate government in Lebanon is being subjected to an all-out war. We, the Arab world cannot stand idly by as this happens," he was quoted as saying.
"Iran is managing this war and Hizbullah is looking to impose Islamic rule on all of Lebanon, like in Iran," al-Faisal said. "We must do whatever it takes in order to stop this war and save Lebanon, even if this requires the establishment of an Arab force that will quickly be deployed there, thus protecting the existing legitimate government."
The Saudi minister continued to say that "we must issue a statement condemning Hizbullah and Iran over the invasion and send a stern warning to the gunmen to cease fighting and withdraw. Then we must stand by (Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad) Siniora's government and praise it for its resilience."
Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, who represented his country at the Arab League conference, said "the developments in Lebanon are an internal matter and we do not want to intervene."
The envoy then lashed out at the Saudi FM, saying "your position favors a small group of Lebanese. You say that the Lebanese government is legitimate, but it does not represent all the Lebanese people, only some of them.
The Arab League eventually decided that it would try to mediate between the rival factions in Lebanon but did not condemn Hizbullah.