Beirut: Just days after former prime minister Sa’ad Hariri reemphasised Lebanon’s “Arab identity”, the Future Party leader slammed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah after he admitted in a recent speech that Hezbollah is funded by Iran.

“This admission shows Hezbollah follows Iran par excellence,” Hariri said on Saturday night, citing Nasrallah’s admission as proof that Hezbollah puts the interests of other countries before those of Lebanon.

“As long as Iran has money, Hezbollah has money... Can we be any more frank than that?” Hariri said in his speech on Thursday marking the arba‘een [passing of 40 days] of Hezbollah leader Mustafa Badr Al Deen, who was killed in Damascus.

Badr Al Deen, a cousin and brother-in-law of Emad Mughniyeh, was accused of assassinating Rafik Hariri in 2005 and his trial in absentia is still under way at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon at The Hague.

Badr Al Deen was killed in a mysterious bombing at Damascus airport while Mughniyeh was killed on February 12, 2008 in a car bomb blast, also in Damascus.

Hariri also directed his diatribe at Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, whose resignation over the mishandling of Michael Samaha’s case gained him wide popularity in the country.

Rifi’s list outperformed Hariri’s list during the recent municipal elections in Lebanon in a reflection of the frustration of the masses with the elite political establishment in the country.

Rifi has criticised Sa’ad Hariri claiming that he has failed to carry forward the ideals of his assassinated father who is revered in the country.

“He should stop attacking the Hariris in the name of Rafik Hariri,” the Future Party leader retorted. He argued that the focus should be on those who “insist to put Iran, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain first and Lebanon at the end”.

Iranian meddling, he said, will only escalate existing tensions between Arabs and Iran.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s ministers of interior and tourism, Nouhad Mashnouq and Michel Pharoan, held a joint press conference calling for tourists, especially those from the GCC, to return to the country.

It may be recalled that GCC states had banned their nationals from travelling to Lebanon and took specific measures against some Lebanese citizens working in their countries after they designated Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.

Mashnouq sought to assure that the security situation was well under control and that the police presence in tourist areas has been boosted. He added that untoward incidents in Lebanon were far less threatening to similar events in European capitals.

Over 500 events, including 90 major concerts and festivals, have been planned over the next three months to attract tourists.