Lebanese foreign minister summons US envoy in growing row over her attack on Hezbollah
The US Ambassador to Lebanon has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Beirut on Monday amid a growing furor over the envoy’s criticism of Hezbollah.
The row began when the ambassador, Dorothy Shea, told the Saudi-owned news channel Al-Hadath that the US had “grave concerns about the role of Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization.”
She added: “It has syphoned off billions of dollars that should have gone into government coffers so that the government can provide basic services to its people. It has obstructed some of the reforms the Lebanese economy so desperately needs.”
Mohamad Mazeh, a judge in the southern city of Tyre, was widely ridiculed on Saturday when he ruled that the envoy’s comments incited sectarian strife, and issued an order banning the media from reporting anything she said for a year. Judicial sources said the judge’s ruling had no legal force, the US State Department described it as “pathetic” and on Sunday Lebanese media ignored it. Local TV stations broadcast new comments from the ambassador in which she described the judge’s decision as “unfortunate.” “I was contacted yesterday afternoon by a high-ranking and well-placed official in the Lebanese government who apologized, and said this ruling did not have proper standing,” Shea said. The official told her the government would “take the necessary steps to reverse it.”
The row began when US Ambassador Dorothy Shea told the Al-Hadath news channel that the US had ‘grave concerns about the role of Hezbollah.’
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun with US Ambassador Dorothy Shea during a recent meeting. Her strong criticism of Hezbollah has caused an uproar.