Ali Cuts Ties with Asiri: He Dealt an Unfriendly Blow to a Brotherly Relation
The debate flared up again on Friday between the Syrian and Saudi ambassadors to Lebanon over the issue of a Syria-bound arms ship recently seized in Lebanon’s territorial waters.
Syrian ambassador Ali Abdul Karim Ali declared on NBN television that he has severed ties with Saudi ambassador Ali Awadh Asiri, saying “he’s the one who dealt an unfriendly blow to a brotherly relation.”
“I have respect for him but it is up to embassies to define the type of relations between diplomats, and the stance of his foreign minister (Prince Saud al-Faisal) is clear as to arming the Syrian opposition and supporting it financially,” Ali told NBN.
The Lebanese army intercepted last month the vessel that contained three containers of arms off the northern coast and towed it to the port of Selaata and then to the navy base in Beirut.
The eleven-member crew – eight Syrians, two Egyptians and an Indian -- and the ship’s agent were arrested. Investigations revealed that no Lebanese national was involved in the case.
However, a senior rebel Free Syrian Army official denied that the rebels had any link to the ship which originated in Libya. The unnamed officer instead blamed the Syrian regime for being behind the arms shipment.
The Syrian regime has repeatedly said that weapons are being smuggled from Lebanon to arm the rebels.
On Wednesday the Syrian ambassador said “the arms containers were destined for the Syrian opposition and their accomplices… especially when the political and security leaderships in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries are behind the incidents in Syria, Lebanon and the region.”
Asiri snapped back on Thursday, saying Ali’s remarks were “part of a policy adopted by the Syrian government in a desperate attempt to divert attention from what the brotherly Syrian people are suffering.”
In his interview on NBN, Ali admonished Asiri for his remarks.
“I did not jump to conclusions, but rather quoted his foreign minister who has called for arming the Syrian opposition,” Ali said.
“I did not say that Saudi Arabia was involved, but rather that the Arab leaderships have not concealed their stances which carried a blunt call for providing the opposition with arms and money,” he added.
“This specific type of weapons is aimed at infiltrating our internal structure and we are awaiting probe results and we hope it will be serious and decisive, for the sake of Lebanon,” the Syrian diplomat added.
Separately, Ali called on the Lebanese authorities to “evaluate” a recent visit by influential U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman to the northern area of Wadi Khaled and his meetings with Syrian refugees sheltered there.
“Such visits must be subject to certain diplomatic rules,” Ali said, describing the trip as “an aggression against Lebanon and the Lebanese sovereignty.”