BEIRUT: The head of powerful Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah and key Damascus ally Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah yesterday accused Saudi Arabia of blocking a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
Nasrallah said the Gulf kingdom was “furious because the situation in Syria has not worked out in its favour”, in a speech broadcast on a large screen set up in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold.
Riyadh has been a key backer of rebel groups fighting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad since March 2011.
“Today, political dialogue and the search for a political solution are enjoying international, regional and interior support ... but there is a state in the region which is furious (about the proposed Geneva II peace conference), and its name is Saudi Arabia,” Nasrallah charged.
Relations between Washington and Riyadh have been strained since the United States backed away from military action against Assad over alleged chemical weapons attacks in August.
Ties have worsened further between the two allies over Washington’s recent engagement with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-foe in the region.
Nasrallah said that the Gulf kingdom had sent foreign fighters, weapons and money to back Syrian rebels fighting the government in Damascus to bring about Assad’s fall.
“But it didn’t work,” said Nasrallah, who has admitted sending Hezbollah fighters to battle alongside government troops in Syria as they seek to crush rebel forces. “The region cannot be torn apart by war because a state is furious and is trying to hinder any political dialogue and push back Geneva II,” he said.
“Their obstinacy is pointless,” he added.
The Geneva talks slated for next month aim to bring rebel and regime representatives to the table in a bid to seek a negotiated end to the Syrian conflict, which according to a rights group has claimed more than 115,000 lives since March 2011.