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EU, US affirm Lebanon support, diverging from Saudi
By REUTERS
11/08/2017

BEIRUT, November 8  - The European Union and the United States on Wednesday reaffirmed support for Lebanon after the resignation of its prime minister, striking a sharp contrast to Saudi Arabia, which accuses Beirut of declaring war because of the Shi'ite group Hezbollah.

Statements of support from EU ambassadors to Lebanon and the United States have set a different tone to their Sunni Gulf ally Saudi Arabia, which has lumped Lebanon together with the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah as parties hostile to it.

Lebanon has been pitched into deep crisis since the Saudi-allied Saad al-Hariri resigned on Saturday in a speech delivered from Saudi Arabia in which he accused Hezbollah and Iran of sowing strife in the Arab world and cited fear of assassination.

The circumstances surrounding Hariri's sudden resignation have given rise to wide speculation that he had been caught up in a high-level anti-corruption purge in Saudi Arabia, where his family made their fortune, and coerced into resigning.

Saudi Arabia has denied this along with reports that it has put Hariri under house arrest. It says he quit because Hezbollah was calling the shots in the government.

The move has pulled Lebanon back to the forefront of a regional struggle between the Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the Shi'ite Islamist government of Iran, a rivalry which has also swept through Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen.

It has plunged Lebanon into political crisis and hit market confidence in the heavily indebted Lebanese state. A sell off of Lebanese bonds continued for a third day on Wednesday, with some of them hitting their lowest ever levels.

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