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UN warns any Lebanese conflict could have devastating consequences

UN warns any Lebanese conflict could have devastating consequences
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By Robert Hackwill
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Secretary General Antonio Gutteres joins voices calling for calm as crisis deepens since al-Hariri resignation.

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he has serious concerns over escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, and that it is essential to avert new conflict in the region. Hundreds of Gulf states citizens are leaving Beirut as quickly as they can, fearing the worst.

“It is a matter of great concern to us. What we want is for peace to be preserved in Lebanon, it is essential that no new conflict erupts in the region, it would have devastating consequences,” he warned.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is in Saudi Arabia, from where he made his dramatic resignation prompted, say some, by foreign pressure. He claimed he was in fear of his life.

Hezbollah accused Saudi Arabia of declaring war on Lebanon and the Iran-backed group on Friday. He insisted the Saudis had twisted al-Hariri’s arm to quit and were detaining him to destabilise the country.

“If your problem’s with Iran, why attack, destroy and sabotage Lebanon just to prove your influence? We admit, you have influence, but if your goal ‘s to defeat the Lebanese or the Lebanese resistance or political parties
who refuse to obey you, then you are mistaken,” said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

France is positioning itself as a broker between the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim rivals, but neutrality may leave it with little leverage.

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