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February 22, 2016 3:00 pm

Lebanese Justice Minister Resigns, Says Hezbollah Consolidating Iran-Allied ‘Mini-State’

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Ashraf Rifi. Photo: Wikipedia.

Ashraf Rifi. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Lebanese justice minister accused Hezbollah of attempting to co-opt the government in Beirut to establish its own “mini-state,” AFP reported on Monday.

Ashraf Rifi made this comment as he announced his resignation from the Justice Ministry, citing Hezbollah’s domination of the government and blaming the group for Saudi Arabia’s decision to withhold some $3 billion in aid to the Lebanese army.

Rifi said Shiite Hezbollah, which is allied with Iran, had ruined Beirut’s relationship with the Sunni Saudi government, which opposes Iran’s expanding influence in the region.

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“Hezbollah has used this government to consolidate its project of a mini-state. It wanted to use it as a tool to extend its control over the state and its decisions,” said Rifi, a vocal opponent of Hezbollah’s, according to AFP.

“I will not accept becoming false witness and covering for those trying to dominate the state and its institutions … that is why I am presenting my resignation,” he said.

Rifi also accused Hezbollah of exacerbating the political crisis that has left Lebanon without a sitting president for the last 21 months, according to the report.

Hezbollah is an active member of the Lebanese parliament, but it also maintains its own militant arm, which has been operating in Syria on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the group’s own interests in the region.

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