Saudi minister to be sued in Lebanon over sowing discord

Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan
A Lebanese judge has accepted to look into a lawsuit filed against Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-c, on charges of sowing discord among the Lebanese, the National News Agency (NNA) said.

“Beirut First Examining Magistrate Ghassan Oueidat has decided to accept the lawsuit filed by liberated captive Nabih Awada against Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on charges of sowing discord among the Lebanese, inciting them to strife and disrupting Lebanon’s ties with a foreign state,” according to the report.

A few days before Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s controversial resignation on Nov. 4, al-Sabhan issued threats against Lebanon’s government as well as Iran and its ally Hezbollah via Twitter, unnerving many Lebanese who feared being dragged into the forefront of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry.

The Saudi minister warned in an interview with Lebanon’s MTV that there would be “astonishing” developments to “topple” Hezbollah.

He also said that Lebanon’s government, headed by Hariri, would be dealt with as a hostile government that declared war against Saudi Arabia because of Hezbollah’s power-sharing role.

“It is up to (Lebanon’s) leaders to decide whether it is a state of terror or peace,” al-Sabhan wrote on Twitter two days after Hariri’s resignation.

Hariri announced his surprise resignation in a televised speech from Saudi Arabia on Nov. 4, triggering a political crisis in Lebanon and heightened regional tensions. Hariri withdrew his resignation earlier December.

On a visit to Washington soon after Hariri’s televised resignation, Sabhan, got a withering reception, Western and Arab officials said, from David M. Satterfield, the State Department’s acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs. He demanded that Sabhan explain why Riyadh was destabilizing Lebanon.

Intense diplomacy followed by France, the United States, Egypt and other countries, producing a deal that allowed Hariri to leave Saudi Arabia.

According to Lebanese media reports, Sabhan is no longer in charge of the Lebanese file.

Nabih Awada , who is suing Sabhan is reportedly a veteran Lebanese inmate ,who has served time in Israeli prisons and is close to Hezbollah. He filed the lawsuit on January 31 through his lawyer Hassan Bazzi.
The move could escalate tensions between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

According to media reports the grounds of the lawsuit against sabhan are his alleged “stoking of strife among Lebanese” and “damaging Lebanon’s relations with a foreign state”, a possible reference to Hezbollah’s backer Iran.

Sabhan is reportedly a fierce critic of Hezbollah and Iran . He was previously the ambassador to Iraq, but left amid threats from Iranian-backed militias.