BEIRUT - Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, accused Iran on Thursday of interfering in Arab affairs and said neither Lebanon nor Bahrain would become Iranian protectorates. Saudi-backed Hariri, toppled in January when Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies resigned from his government, said interference by Shi'ite Iran was one of the greatest challenges facing Arab countries.
"Lebanon and several Arab countries in the Gulf and elsewhere suffer politically, economically and in security terms from blatant Iranian interference," said Hariri, a Sunni.
"They decided to go to the furthest lengths to penetrate Arab societies, one after the other. Lebanon, then Bahrain, then others ... This Iranian policy is no longer acceptable," he told delegates at a Saudi-Lebanese business conference in Beirut.
"...We in Lebanon do not consent to becoming an Iranian protectorate, as our brothers in Bahrain or any country do not accept becoming an Iranian protectorate."