BEIRUT (Dispatches) -- Lebanon’s foreign ministry has summoned the U.S. ambassador over her recent criticism of Hezbollah, a day after a judge banned local media from covering her future remarks, state media said Sunday.
Foreign minister Nassif Hitti "has summoned U.S. ambassador Dorothy Shea for a meeting tomorrow (Monday) at 15:00 (12:00 GMT) in light of her latest statements,” said a statement carried by the state-run National News Agency on Sunday.
During an interview with Saudi-owned news channel Al-Hadath aired on Friday, Dorothy Shea said the United States has "grave concerns about the role of Hezbollah”.
On Saturday, a judge in the southern city of Tyre issued an order banning local and foreign media working in the country from airing or publishing locally comments by Shea for a year because of her remarks on Hezbollah.
Judge Mohamad Mazeh said Shea’s comments incited sectarian strife and serve to "turn the Lebanese people against each other.”
President Michel Aoun censured Washington’s "direct” interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon.
"The Americans are directly interfering in the Lebanese domestic affairs; and this is unacceptable,” Aoun said in an exclusive interview with Al-Mayadeen television.
Hezbollah, he said, represents the Lebanese society and enjoys popularity among people as he chastised the U.S. ambassador for her inappropriate remarks.
Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah on Sunday condemned the ambassador’s "hostile behavior” saying her remarks constitute an "attack” on the country’s "sovereignty and dignity.”
He called on Lebanese authorities and especially the foreign ministry to "compel the ambassador to respect international treaties that define the duties of diplomats.”
Hezbollah’s popularity for shattering the occupying regime of Israel’s myth of invincibility in the Arab public opinion has worried the Zionist regime and the West.
Hezbollah has defended Lebanon against two wars waged by Israel in the 2000s. Its military engagement in the Syria war has also turned it into a seasoned force, with many Western observers describing Hezbollah as the most powerful Arab army.
The U.S. and its Persian Gulf allies have imposed sanctions on Lebanese economic assets and figures for alleged cooperation with Hezbollah.
The sanctions have seriously hurt Lebanon’s economy and led to a currency crisis, generating a series of violent riots which have crippled the government.
Earlier this month, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab condemned the street protests, saying they were an attempt by opponents to overthrow his government and deepen a currency crisis in the debt-ridden country.
Diab said his political opponents were stirring unrest in a bid to thwart the government’s fight against corruption.
Diab took office in January with Hezbollah’s backing, putting an end to a nine-month political deadlock amid an economic crisis and nationwide protests against the nation’s ruling class.
In his address this month, the Lebanese premier censured efforts to mount a "coup” against the government and manipulate the value of the Lebanese pound.
"The coup attempt fell apart and all secret and public meetings and orders of internal and joint operations to stop discovering of corruption failed as well,” he added.
Anti-government protests broke out in Lebanon after a rapid devaluation of the national currency against the U.S. dollar. The Lebanese pound has lost some 70 percent of its value over the past several months.