11 July 2020 - 18:58
News ID: 450398
Lebanese protesters have rallied in the capital Beirut to condemn Washington’s intervention in the Arab country's domestic affairs after US Ambassador Dorothy Shea made comments against the Hezbollah resistance movement.

Rasa - The protesters converged outside the US embassy in the Awkar neighborhood of Beirut on Friday, waving Hezbollah flags and chanting slogans in support of Hezbollah and against US policies in the Middle East region.

The participants burnt US flags and mock-up dollar bills, calling the United States the “mother of terrorism.”

Protesters hurled stones at riot police near the embassy, from which they were separated by layers of barbed wire.

Some demonstrators sought to remove the wire, at which point they were sprayed with water cannons. The riot police eventually escorted the crowd away from the embassy area.

This is the second anti-US protest in Beirut and its suburbs this week.

Shea was already summoned for a meeting with Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti.

In an interview with Saudi-owned al-Hadath television news network late last month, Shea had said Washington has “great concerns” over Hezbollah’s role in the Lebanese government.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun also condemned the US envoy’s anti-Hezbollah criticism, stating that Washington is continuously meddling in the internal affairs of the country.

“The Americans are directly interfering in the Lebanese domestic affairs; and this is unacceptable,” Aoun said in an exclusive interview with Beirut-based and Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network on June 28.

US envoy holds lengthy talks with PM Diab over Syria

Also on Friday, the US ambassador to Lebanon held talks with Prime Minister Hassan Diab at the Grand Serail in downtown Beirut.

Local Arabic-language LBCI television network reported that the talks revolved around Shea’s recent statements against Hezbollah, the issue of border demarcation with the Israeli regime as well as the so-called “Caesar Act” sanctions imposed by the US against the Syrian government.

Lebanon 'spiraling out of control': UN rights chief

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has warned that Lebanon's economic crisis is getting out of hand, calling for urgent internal reforms coupled with international support to prevent further downturn.

Bachelet said in a statement on Friday that the social fabric of the Arab country was at risk as vulnerable populations are threatened with extreme poverty.

“This situation is fast spiraling out of control, with many already destitute and facing starvation as a direct result of this crisis. The alarm has been sounded, and we must respond immediately before it is too late,” she pointed out.

Bachelet went on to say that an unemployment crisis would propel poverty and indebtedness with “grave implications” in a country with fragile social nets.

She said vulnerable Lebanese people, along with 1.7 million refugees, were increasingly unable to meet their basic needs. Some 250,000 migrant workers, many of whom have lost their jobs or been left homeless, must be added to the figure as well.

“Their situation will only get worse as food and medical imports dry up. As we respond to this pandemic and the socio-economic crisis, we must include and protect everyone, regardless of their migration or other status,” the former Chilean president said.

Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis in decades. The Lebanese pound has continued to plummet against the US dollar, losing more than 60 percent of its value over the last weeks while sources of foreign currency have dried up.

The economic situation is fueling inflation, which the Finance Ministry has estimated will reach 27 percent later this year.

Diab assured Lebanese citizens on April 16 that at least 98 percent of bank deposits will not be affected by any financial measures that his government plans to take.

Some economists have, however, cast doubts on such promises, terming them as “out of touch with reality.”

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