Lebanon: Gov’t Resorts to ‘Diplomacy’ after Demands to Expel Swedish Ambassador

Lebanese army soldiers stand guard in front of a building of the Sweden embassy as protests erupt outside mosques against the Quran desecration, in Beirut, Lebanon, 21 July 2023. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
Lebanese army soldiers stand guard in front of a building of the Sweden embassy as protests erupt outside mosques against the Quran desecration, in Beirut, Lebanon, 21 July 2023. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
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Lebanon: Gov’t Resorts to ‘Diplomacy’ after Demands to Expel Swedish Ambassador

Lebanese army soldiers stand guard in front of a building of the Sweden embassy as protests erupt outside mosques against the Quran desecration, in Beirut, Lebanon, 21 July 2023. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
Lebanese army soldiers stand guard in front of a building of the Sweden embassy as protests erupt outside mosques against the Quran desecration, in Beirut, Lebanon, 21 July 2023. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH

Lebanon’s government is seeking to avoid an escalation with Sweden over demands in Beirut to expel the Swedish ambassador and summon the Lebanese ambassador from Stockholm as an objection to the burning of the Quran.

Last week, a photo of the Swedish Ambassador to Lebanon, Ann Dismorr, circulated on social media, showing the diplomat departing Beirut after calls by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah to expel her.

Lebanon’s foreign ministry didn’t issue any statement to clarify whether the ambassador was expelled.

Yet, diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that she “left on vacation”, stressing that “no measures were taken against her” and Lebanon’s ambassador to Sweden wasn’t summoned either.

Nasrallah had called on the Arab and Islamic nations to demand their governments expel Sweden's ambassadors and withdraw ambassadors from Sweden.

He further urged the Lebanese government to withdraw the ambassador or chargé d'affaires from Sweden and to expel the Swedish ambassador from Lebanon.

The deputy head of the Executive Council of Hezbollah, Ali Damoush, demanded that the state “bear full responsibility” and “expel the Swedish ambassador to Lebanon as well as withdraw the Lebanese ambassador from Sweden.”

Supporters of Hezbollah held on Friday a sit-in outside the Swedish Embassy in Beirut.

During a phone call with his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom expressed on Sunday Sweden’s regret over the desecration of the Quran and the insult to Islamic beliefs and symbols.

Bou Habib welcomed the position and encouraged Sweden to take additional practical steps to reduce feelings of growing hatred and Islamophobia.

He also affirmed Lebanon's respect for international agreements, particularly the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and its commitment to taking all possible measures to ensure the safety of Swedish interests and citizens within its borders.



Netanyahu Says Israel Winding Down Gaza Operations. A Lebanon War Could be Next

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
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Netanyahu Says Israel Winding Down Gaza Operations. A Lebanon War Could be Next

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the current phase of fighting against Hamas in Gaza is winding down, setting the stage for Israel to send more troops to its northern border to confront Hezbollah.
The Israeli leader said in a lengthy TV interview that while the army is close to completing its current ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, that would not mean the war against Hamas is over. But he said fewer troops would be needed in Gaza, freeing up forces to battle Hezbollah.

“We will have the possibility of transferring some of our forces north, and we will do that,” he told Israel’s Channel 14, a pro-Netanyahu TV channel, in an interview that was frequently interrupted by applause from the studio audience. “First and foremost, for defense,” he added, but also to allow tens of thousands of displaced Israelis to return home.

Netanyahu said he hoped a diplomatic solution to the crisis could be found but vowed to solve the problem “in a different way” if needed. ″We can fight on several fronts and we are prepared to do that,” he said.
He said any deal would not just be “an agreement on paper.” He said it would require Hezbollah to be far from the border, an enforcement mechanism and the return of Israelis back to their homes. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated shortly after the fighting erupted and have not been able to go home.

Hezbollah has said it will continue battling Israel until a cease-fire is reached in Gaza. The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warned Israel last week against launching a war, saying Hezbollah has new weapons and intelligence capabilities that could help it target more critical positions deeper inside Israel.