Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari defended the Lebanese Resistance Movement, Hezbollah, in a speech before the Arab League, prompting the Saudi delegation to withdraw from the meeting.
“Whoever accuses Popular Resistance for the Liberation of Iraq and Hezbollah of terrorism is the one who supports and adopts terrorism,” Jaafari said in his speech, a source in the foreign ministry told the Iraqi news agency.
Jaafari expressed solidarity with Hezbollah in his speech, underlining that the “popular resistance and Hezbollah safeguarded the dignity of Arabs,” Lebanon’s Daily Star reported.
The Iraqi minister rejected attempts to distort the image of Hezbollah, saying that the party’s Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah “is an Arab hero who defended values and principles.”
Tensions have intensified between Riyadh and Hezbollah since March 2015 over the war in Yemen, where the two groups support opposite sides.
The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) and the Arab Interior Ministers separately designated Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization” last week. The development came amid strained relations between the party and Saudi Arabia, which is a leading PGCC country.
Last month, the Persian Gulf littoral state suspended $4 billion in aid to the Lebanese Army and police in response to stances taken by Lebanese officials.