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Lebanese to sue Saudi minister, MBS protege Thamer Sabhan Open in fullscreen

Karim Traboulsi

Lebanese to sue Saudi minister, MBS protege Thamer Sabhan

Thamer Sabhan is a protege of MBS [YouTube]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2018

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In a move sure to escalate tensions between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, a judge in Beirut has accepted a lawsuit against Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer Sabhan
In a move sure to escalate tensions between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, a judge in Beirut has accepted a lawsuit against Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs and ex-ambassdor to Baghdad Thamer Sabhan

Beirut investigate judge Ghassan Oweidat accepted the complaint filed by Nabih Awada, a former prisoner of war held by Israel close to powerful militant and political group Hizballah.

The grounds of the lawsuit against Thabhan are his alleged "stoking of strife among Lebanese" and "damaging Lebanon's relations with a foreign state", a possible reference to Hizballah's backer Iran.

Sabhan is a fierce critic of Hizballah and Iran, and has made several controversial statements urging the Lebanese to rise up against the group. He was previously the ambassador to Iraq, but left amid threats from Iranian-backed militias.

The move, reported by the National News Agency, comes a day after Saudi outlet Elaph quoted a senior Saudi official as threatening Lebanon's prime minister Saad al-Hariri.

"His sprint towards Turkey will cost him dearly," the official allegedly said, in reference to a recent visit to Ankara by Hariri, once close to Saudi Arabia before Riyadh forced him to resign and held him hostage for nearly two weeks, if reports are to be believed.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey are increasingly competing for dominance of the Sunni bloc and are at odds over the Riyadh-led blockade of Qatar, despite otherwise maintaining good relations.

Thamer Sabhan is a close adviser to Saudi powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, and is thought to have masterminded Hariri's forced resignation, which backfired against Saudi Arabia and caused a backlash in Lebanon and Western capitals.

Hariri's shock resignation on 4 November from Saudi Arabia had thrown his coalition government and the country into crisis, but he rescinded the move after returning home.

His resignation was widely viewed as being forced by Saudi Arabia, triggering tensions with Beirut and bringing Riyadh's feud with the Iran-backed Hizballah to the tiny country.

Speculation had swirled around the fate of Hariri, who is a Saudi citizen and grew up in the kingdom, after spending two weeks holed up in Riyad after he resigned. 

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