In the recent months, tensions have increased between the Yemeni government and Hizbullah, who is accused of supporting and arming the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in
Elements in the Yemeni government, as well as in the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is fighting the Houthis, have long been claiming to have evidence that Hizbullah is involved in the
These incidents prompted the Yemeni government to launch a diplomatic campaign against Hizbullah's support of the Houthis, as part of which
Hizbullah supporters in
Following these events, Lebanese politicians and columnists attacked Hizbullah and justified
Criticism of Hizbullah was also voiced in the Saudi press, which accused the organization of violating the policy of "dissociation" from regional conflicts espoused by the Lebanese government. The articles slammed not only Hizbullah but also the Lebanese authorities for turning a blind eye to its involvement in
This report reviews Hizbullah's support of the Houthis in
Houthi Delegation Received By Nasrallah In
On August 18, 2018, a delegation on behalf of Ansar Allah, the Houthi movement in
Nasrallah meeting with the Houthi representatives (image: Newlebanon.info, August 20, 2018)
The visit, which sparked criticism in
Hizbullah Provides Houthis With Troops, Training, Weapons and Drugs
Hizbullah's support for the Houthis includes military aid and even dispatching troops to fight in
Other reports indicate that Hizbullah is also training and arming the Houthis. The Saudi Al-Watan daily reported in February 2018, citing a Lebanese source, that Hizbullah had increased its training of the Houthi fighters, instructing them not only in combat skills but also in the manufacture and use of grenades, explosive charges and rockets, and that the training was conducted by Iranian experts in Beirut. A Hizbullah commander told the British Financial Times: "The Houthis and Hizbullah have been training together for the last 10 years. [The Houthis] trained with us in
Besides participating in the fighting and providing training and arms, Hizbullah also serves as a liaison between
Nasrallah: I Neither Deny Nor Confirm That We Have People In
Hizbullah's support for the Houthis is also manifested in blatant political support for their positions and demands. Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah makes sure to express his support for them in almost every speech, and to castigate Saudi Arabia, which heads the Arab coalition that is fighting them. In a June 29, 2018 speech he even expressed his desire to fight alongside them himself, saying: "The battle on the west [Yemen] coast is another lesson that joins the tremendous achievements in Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere. I am ashamed that I am not among the fighters on the west Yemen coast. Witnessing their ceaseless acts of heroism, I keep saying to myself: I wish I could have been one of your fighters, under your brave commander. Every honorable person on the face of the earth is saying the same... This campaign is a lesson to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, [showing them] that they are facing a people that will not surrender and is very steadfast..." Other Hizbullah officials frequently make such statements as well.
It should be mentioned that, to date, Hizbullah's top leadership has not admitted having troops in Yemen. Nasrallah rejected the Saudi Foreign Minister's allegation that Hizbullah was behind the firing of the rocket at Riyadh and that Hizbullah fighters have been killed in Yemen. However, in his July 29, 2018 speech, he took a different tack when he refused to either deny or confirm the presence of Hizbullah fighters in Yemen, saying: "I do not deny and do not confirm that our people are in Yemen – but whether we have troops there or not, the reports about Hizbullah martyrs in Yemen are false." It should also be mentioned that Hizbullah routinely tweets videos documenting attacks on the coalition forces in Yemen.
Yemen Government In Diplomatic Protest: Hizbullah Is An Accomplice To The Shedding Of Yemeni Blood
Hizbullah's involvement in the fighting in Yemen, and its support for the Houthis, enraged the Yemen government, which filed a diplomatic protest with the Lebanon government stating that Hizbullah had become an accomplice to the shedding of Yemeni blood. Later, it also called for a UN Security Council investigation.
Thus, on July 8, 2018, following the deaths of eight Hizbullah operatives in Yemen and Nasrallah's statements about his desire to fight in Yemen, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani sent a harsh letter of protest to his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil. The letter stated: "Hizbullah has deviated from fraternal relations and harmed the close and stable relations between the Republic of Yemen and its Lebanese ally. It has participated in training, planning, incitement, and support for the rebel Houthi militia, that on September 21, 2014 carried out a coup against the legitimate [Yemeni] authorities, took over its state institutions, invaded its provinces, and, under threat of arms, forced its regime to carry out Iran's expansion plan."
It added: "Hizbullah's support for the Houthi militia has become open, [expressed] in statements by Hizbullah Secretary-General Nasrallah on June 29, 2018, in which he incited [his audience] to fight the Yemeni government forces and expressed his wish, and the wish of his operatives, to fight for the men of the rebellion and to support the Houthi militias against the legitimate and internationally recognized [Yemeni] regime. This was gross interference in Yemen's internal affairs, and can cause great harm to Yemen's supreme interest and its national security, and fan the flames of the war in the region..." Al-Yamani also demanded that the Lebanese government rein in Hizbullah's aggressive behavior, in accordance with its "dissociation" policy.
In an interview 10 days later with the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, Al-Yamani harshly criticized Nasrallah and IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani for their interference in the affairs of Arab countries by means of their Iran-backed militias. He said that Hizbullah "is not operating according to a national Lebanese agenda but, as its secretary-general [Nasrallah] said, is receiving instructions from the Rule of the Jurisprudent in Tehran, receiving all aid from Iran, and working to protect [Iran's] vital supreme interests. The official Lebanon, the [Lebanese] public, and [Lebanon's] political and social elements... understand the danger of the Iranian expansion of its terror arms in Yemen, and [understand] the degree of the Hizbullah militias' involvement in Arab countries, including Yemen."
On July 14, 2018, Yemeni Ambassador to the U.S. and its representative in the UN, Dr. Ahmed bin Mubarak, told the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily: "The Yemeni government has proof that Hizbullah is supporting the Houthi terror militias in various ways, and that it is carrying out Iranian agendas aimed at harming Yemen and the region." Also, a Yemeni Foreign Ministry official said, on July 29, that Hizbullah, which is interfering in Yemen's affairs, is "an accomplice to the shedding of Yemeni blood" and would come to regret it. At the same time, he added that this would not impact the fraternal Lebanon-Yemen relations.
The Houthi delegation's August 18, 2018 visit to Lebanon and meeting with Nasrallah revived the protests of the Yemeni government. The Yemeni embassy in Washington released an announcement stating: "The visit of the Houthi delegation in Lebanon and its meeting with the secretary-general of the Hizbullah militias, Hassan Nasrallah, constitute new proof of the role that Hizbullah is playing in destabilizing Yemen and further proof of its support for the Houthis."
Likewise, on August 26, the Yemeni government demanded that the UN Security Council investigate the Hizbullah militias' interference in Yemen. A letter conveyed by Yemen's representative to the UN stated that Hizbullah was giving the Houthis instructions and working to thwart the Yemen-Houthi talks that the UN representative to Yemen intended to hold in Geneva the following month.
Yemeni Information Minister Mu'ammar Al-Ariani appealed to the Lebanese government and its information minister to honor the policy of dissociation from conflicts. He said: "Hizbullah, which is part of the Lebanese government, has not settled for providing logistical aid in the form of experts and fighters to the Iranian Houthi militias operating in Lebanon; it has turned the Dahiya into a platform for running the propaganda machine of the coup in Yemen and for attacking and smearing the Saudi-headed coalition." Lebanese Information Minister Melhem Al-Riyashi clarified: "The Lebanese government is committed to the policy of dissociation from conflicts" and expressed his opposition "to any harm to an Arab state or interference in its internal affairs." He added that he would relay Al-Ariani's appeal on to the Lebanese prosecutor-general.
Criticism In Lebanon Of Hizbullah's Interference In Yemen: It Serves The Iranian Agenda, And Causes Problems For Lebanon
Within Lebanon too there was criticism of Hizbullah's interference in Yemen. For example, it was reported that Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil wrote in a letter to his Yemeni counterpart in response to the latter's letter of protest, "The position of the Lebanese government vis-à-vis the Yemen crisis is not necessarily the same as the position of all the political elements in Lebanon" – hinting at Hizbullah. Bassil added that "Lebanon dissociates from disputes and wars and is not interfering in [other countries'] internal affairs, in accordance with its own interests."
Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'd Al-Hariri: Hizbullah's Interference In Yemen Will Only Cause Problems For Lebanon
Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'd Al-Hariri, who heads the Al-Mustaqbal stream and is close to Saudi Arabia, spoke out against Hizbullah's interference in Yemen, although it appears that in recent days he is becoming less openly critical of Hizbullah due to his efforts to establish a Lebanese unity government with it. He told the Euronews channel in late August 2018: "We in Lebanon must look at our national interests; interfering in Yemen or in Syria will only cause problems for Lebanon." He also said that, if the other parties in Lebanon have a different position on the matter, the disagreements should be set aside and the focus should be on the good of the country, on its economy, and on reforms.
In November 2017, a few days after Saudi Arabia accused Hizbullah of firing a rocket at Riyadh from Yemeni soil, Al-Hariri said in an interview: "What is happening in the region is dangerous for Lebanon, particularly because we are taking stands that expose Lebanon to punishment and economic sanctions. We know that there are American sanctions [against Hizbullah], but what is our interest as Lebanese in adding Arab sanctions to them? Today we see Hizbullah's and Iran's interference in Yemen and Bahrain as bringing an unbearable burden to Lebanon... I am not against Hizbullah as a political body – and that is what it should be – but that does not mean that it has to destroy Lebanon. Political parties are allowed in Lebanon, and in the past it had even more than it has today. But are they allowed to play an external role? Is it reasonable that we, as Lebanese, should bear the responsibility for their sins[?]"
Lebanese Ministers And Officials: Hizbullah Is Damaging Lebanon's Sovereignty And Law
Harsher criticism of Hizbullah came from other elements in Lebanon's political system, particularly in the Al-Mustaqbal stream. These elements justified the Yemeni government's claims against Hizbullah and censured Hizbullah's interference in other places in the world, violating the Lebanese government's dissociation policy. They too warned that this could make problems for Lebanon and expose it to sanctions. For example, Lebanese Interior Minister Nuhad Al-Mashnouq told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Everyone knows that Yemen's claim that Hizbullah is interfering in it is true... I maintain that Yemen's position is a natural one, since it is not fitting for it to be an apparatus for carrying out Iran's policy in the region...Why is [Hizbullah] training and keeping ammunition stores in Nigeria?... The situation has reached the point where all the people oppose the continuation of this policy. Yemen's position reflects the fact that Hizbullah is a real problem for Lebanon in all things regarding its relations with Arab countries, and it is also a problem for the Arabs."
Lebanese Minister of Refugee Affairs Mou'in Merhebi told the Bahraini daily Al-Watan: "The militias of the terrorist Hizbullah are interfering in the affairs of others in Iraq and Yemen, training terrorists there and fighting alongside them. They [also] tried to do this in Egypt and interfered in the UAE and Bahrain. They even occupied cities and villages in Syria, imagine that! Iran not only rules Lebanon but has dismantled the [Lebanese] state... Hizbullah uses every [means] and every opportunity to further Iran's interests, and follows Iran's instructions. Receiving the Houthi [delegation] in Lebanon or letting a pro-Houthi channel air from Lebanon are small things compared to Iran's and Hizbullah's interference in the region, and to their sending of Hizbullah experts to Yemen and training of the Houthis in Lebanon. Our country is not sovereign, because its sovereignty is clearly damaged [by Iran and Hizbullah]..."
Fadi Al-Faber, a former MP on behalf of the Kataeb (Phalanges) Party, wrote that Lebanon turns a blind eye to Hizbullah's contacts with the Houthis because it suffers from "schizophrenia" when it comes to its sovereignty, and added: "Hizbullah is above the law and above the state due to its military supremacy and its partnership with and sponsorship by Iran. Since Michel 'Aoun became president the balance has shifted in Hizbullah's favor, and nobody is able to confront this organization that... has in fact become a state within the state and within the parliament. All the talk about "disassociation" is nothing but a formal slogan, for Hizbullah is immersed in strategic [regional] affairs. "
Cartoon in UAE daily: Hizbullah keeps "Lebanon" from seeing its "gross interference in Yemen" (Al-Bayan, UAE, July 15, 2018)
Lebanese Columnists: Hizbullah Is Breaching The Dissociation Policy And Dragging Lebanon Into The Iranian Camp
Criticism of Hizbullah was also expressed in a handful of articles by Lebanese columnists. For example, Radwan 'Aqil wrote in his column in the Al-Nahar daily: "Nasrallah's meeting with the Houthi delegation was part of a systematic breaching of the policy of dissociation from conflicts by means of direct attacks on Saudi Arabia and an escalation of the [hostile] tone against it – to the extent that Nasrallah expressed a desire to participate in the Yemen confrontation alongside the Houthis."
Randa Taqi Al-Din wrote in her column in the Al-Hayat daily: "The reception of the Houthi delegation in the Dahiya was a new act of defiance against the Lebanese [people] who want a quiet and stable country. Lebanon has been hijacked by Hizbullah, which sacrifices its men to defend Bashar Al-Assad and his gang... and boldly interferes in the war in Yemen. It trains the Houthis, lets their television channels broadcast from Lebanon, and holds ceremonies in honor of their delegation..."
Taqi Al-Din also attacked Lebanese Foreign Minister Bassil's relations with Hizbullah, writing: "How can it be in Lebanon's interest that Hizbullah – which controls Lebanon thanks to its partner within the state [i.e., Bassil] while claiming to act for the benefit of the homeland – is involved in the Yemen war on the side of the Houthis? How is this minister furthering Lebanon's interests by letting it be part of this war, while at the same time he aspires to maintain beneficial and fraternal ties with his brethren in the Gulf?
"Lebanon has a [long] history of crises, wars and catastrophes, and now its stability is being tested, since the policies of Hizbullah, which controls it along with its partner Iran, places it in great danger and exposes it to harsh sanctions, especially by the U.S... The threat to Lebanon will remain as long Hizbullah and its axis [continue to] involve it in regional wars, under the aegis of a foreign minister who aspires to become president under the patronage of the Iranian axis."
Lebanese Journalist: If Nasrallah Comes To Yemen, He Will Go To The Gallows For His Crimes
Lebanese journalist Jerry Maher, known for his opposition to Hizbullah, wrote in his column in the Saudi Al-Watan daily: "Hassan Nasrallah is the master of hypocrisy, after trading in the cause of this Arab people and after killing members of this people in the refugee camps in Syria. He partnered with his Iranian employers in dividing the Palestinian camp and in inciting Hamas to carry out a coup against the legitimate regime in Gaza. He continued to implement this policy to the point where he shamelessly supported the Houthi coup in Yemen. He trained them, sent fighters and advisors to work with them and for them, and threatened the security of the Arab countries with the aspiration to achieve the goals of his Iranian masters.
"In a recent speech, he spoke about Yemen, saying: 'I am ashamed that I am not with the Yemeni fighters on the coast of western Yemen...' Will this criminal [Nasrallah] really sacrifice himself and go to Yemen, and see the reality, which will reveal [to him] that the Arab people hate him and yearn every day for the elimination of his organization that killed their brothers in Syria and Iraq and incited against the Arab Gulf and concocted plots against every Arab country without exception?
"Oh villain, in Yemen they expect you to take this step and go there so that your fate will be no different from that of the terrorists and mercenaries who incited against their country, their security, and their [national] enterprise. With Allah's help, gallows will be set up for you from Aden to Sana'a [in Yemen], and you will be vomited forth by this pure earth, whose people stand like a rock against the men of the coup and their plans, and together with the Islamic coalition led by Saudi Arabia have obtained the best results in confronting this coup against the legitimate [regime.] [The coalition] has regained and liberated the cities of Yemen, and has begun to rebuild them, and to provide food, medicines, and humanitarian needs – while you hide underground in your Dahiya with the rats, and the stench of garbage envelops you and those around you who embrace your obsolete terrorism... And just as, several days ago, the men of Yemen and its coalition sent the mercenaries from your organization back to Beirut in yellow coffins, you must know... that Yemen will not rest until it expels the last Hizbullah mercenary from its pure land.
"Yemen was an Arab [country] and will remain so. Its men will not accept your harm and your interference in their affairs. This gang, a criminal agent of Iran, will come to its end and leave the region and take up residence in the graveyard after causing all these problems for our Yemeni brothers, their land, and their economy. The Yemeni people will not forgive you and [Houthi leader Abd Al-Malik] Al-Houthi for the infinite trouble and pain, and the destruction, disease and starvation, caused by your terrorism and your cooperation with the satanic Iranian regime... I address this message to the Satan of Beirut Hassan Nasrallah, in order to remind him that his false and arbitrary wars will never succeed. His shame has been exposed, and the entire world knows who he really is. He is a villain, a speculator, and a cheap mercenary who is worth no more than the $1,300 he receives from the money of the oppressed and plundered Iranian people for his terrorist regime. Therefore, Hassan [Nasrallah] must start counting down his days [on earth]."
Criticism In Saudi Press Of Hizbullah And Lebanese Government That Enables Its Involvement In Yemen
The Saudi press likewise castigated Hizbullah for its involvement in Yemen. The Al-Watan daily warned that the Houthi delegation's visit to Lebanon was aimed at obtaining weapons, training fighters, and enhancing the military cooperation with Hizbullah. Saudi columnists harshly attacked Hizbullah, calling it a terror organization that harms the national security of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Many articles slammed the Lebanese authorities as well, for sheltering Hizbullah and disregarding its actions against Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Columnists argued that it is no longer possible to make any distinction between Hizbullah and the Lebanese government, and therefore called on the Gulf countries to stop supporting Lebanon, withdraw their funds from this country and boycott any Lebanese government incorporating Hizbullah.
Saudi Columnist: Lebanon Has Gone Too Far In Its Defense Of The Criminal Organization That Must Be Uprooted
Rami Al-Khalifa Al-'Ali, columnist for the Saudi daily 'Okaz, wrote: "According to the Lebanon rules, the meaning of the term 'dissociation' is actually heightened intervention in the conflicts of the region, and dispatching terrorists to destroy one country or another. Perhaps someone will say that the responsibility lies with the terror militias of Hizbullah, not with the Lebanese state and its government – but Hizbullah is part of the Lebanese state and part of its government, and it is [Hizbullah] that determines the balances in the current regime there. So how can this terror organization be separated from the Lebanese state? If Hizbullah decides who the country's president is to be... and controls the details of the Lebanese state, how is it possible to separate them? In the past, they said that in Lebanon there is coexistence among the ethnic groups, and that there is a balance among them, so that none will rule over another – but all that is in the past. Today, Lebanon is Hizbullah, and Hizbullah is Lebanon, and nothing remains of this ostensible balance...
"At the beginning of the Syria crisis, Lebanon officially announced that it would not interfere there – but a few months later, terror militia operatives moved openly into it in order to fight alongside the regime. Hassan Nasrallah did not consult with the parties in Lebanon, nor did he wait for a parliamentary decision. He also did not coordinate with the [Lebanese] defense and interior ministries, but went [to fight] by his own decision – or, in other words, the decision of his masters in Tehran– while the Lebanese state 'played dead,' as it is said, and ignored the fact that the terror militias were leading it into a war that had nothing to do with it... Not only has Lebanon gone so far as to be dragged after Hizbullah, it has also begun to defend this gang, that specializes in crime and has established international networks for human trafficking, money laundering, growing and selling drugs...
"Wherever you turn and find destruction in the Arab world, [you will find] Hizbullah. The former Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Saleh noted more than once that Hizbullah had interfered in Yemen's internal affairs and provided weapons to the terrorist Houthis. This was in 2009, and since then Yemen has become an arena of activity by Hizbullah, the arm of Iran in the region... Immediately after Ali Abdallah Saleh left office, Hizbullah hastened to arm the Houthis and sent them military commanders. The coup led by the terror militias would not have succeeded without the Hizbullah's planning, administration, and aid to the Houthis. With all this, Lebanon 'played dead.' Lebanon publicly hosted on its soil a group of Houthis and Houthi spokesmen and allowed Houthi TV [to broadcast this], and at the end [of the visit] Nasrallah, the Lebanese terror head, greeted the Houthi delegation as if all Lebanon, not just the terrorist militias, were waging war against the Arab coalition states and participating in supporting terrorism.
"Hizbullah's terrorist militias are a cancerous growth that has spread throughout the Lebanese body. Growths must be treated and fought by means of sanctions or uprooted by surgery, but the fear is that it is too late and the growth has metastasized throughout Lebanon to the point where it has eliminated it. What we see is nothing but a ghost of a pale country, while what exists is nothing but a Hizbullah state."
Cartoon in Saudi daily: Iran, Hizbullah give the defeated Houthis a shot in the arm ('Okaz, Saudi Arabia, September 5, 2018)
Saudi Columnist To The Political Factions In Lebanon: We Can't Possibly Support You If You Are Political Allies Of Hizbullah
Another 'Okaz columnist, Khaled Al-Suleiman, likewise mentioned the Saudi fury at the Lebanese authorities, and especially at the political forces that allow Hizbullah to assist the Houthis in Yemen. He wrote: "In the past Saudi Arabia put up with this situation, when its impact was confined to the newspapers, to chatter on talk shows and to shrill speeches at rallies. But when it goes further than that – to the point of participating in aggressive action that harms our security, training terrorist groups and militias that infringe on our sovereignty, financing those who conspire [against us] and threaten our very existence, and when Lebanon becomes a gateway for smuggling drugs into our [country], a station for exporting plots against us and a base for training those who attack our borders – this is tantamount to acts of war that cannot be accepted, no matter what excuses the Lebanese regime comes up with [by citing] Lebanon's unique circumstances. You cannot be my friend and receive my support while at the same time being a political ally of my enemy, who publically declares his hostility [towards me] and boasts about his involvement in harming my security and sovereignty."
Saudi Al-Watan Daily: We Must Boycott Any Government In Which Hizbullah Is A Member, Attack Its Bases in Syria And Lebanon
A July 16 article in the Saudi daily Al-Watan said: "Now that Hizbullah has been placed on [Saudi Arabia's] terror list, we must oppose its membership in any Lebanese government, because its presence in the government grants it the political backing it seeks... We cannot accept [a situation where] Lebanon's official government backs a terrorist militia that murders Yemenis, threatens Saudis, expels Syrians, incites against the Bahrainis and plants [terror] cells to undermine the stability of the Kuwaitis and the Emiratis. The countries of the Arabian Gulf, chief of them Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, are required to act immediately and boycott any Lebanese government that Hizbullah is part of, and also withdraw their deposits from Lebanese banks. We should also authorize the Islamic coalition forces [that are fighting in Yemen] to target Hizbullah bases in Syria and Lebanon, and prevent [Hizbullah] from continuing its policy of terror against Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and their allies."
* C. Jacob is a research fellow at MEMRI; H. Varulkar is Director of Research at MEMRI.
 See MEMRI reports: Special Dispatch No. 7528, Lebanese Columnist: Hizbullah's Actions In Morocco Are Part Of Its Role As A Tool Of Iran, June 18, 2018; Special Dispatch No. 7454, Lebanese Journalist: Hizbullah Settling In Syria As Part Of Iranian Plan To Change Its Demography, May 3, 2018; Special Dispatch No. 6851, Letter By Five Former Lebanese Presidents, PMs To Arab League Summit Conveys Opposition To Hizbullah's Weapons And Involvement In Syria, Iran's Involvement In Arab World, March 30, 2017; Special Dispatch No. 6383, Lebanese Writer: Hizbullah Is No Longer A Resistance Organization, But An Occupier And Target For Resistance, April 12, 2016; Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 965, Arab World Precedent: Bahrain Adds Hizbullah To List Of Terrorist Organizations, May 7, 2013.
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