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October 26, 2017 No.
7150

Calls In Saudi Arabia To Fight Hizbullah As Part Of War On Terror, For It Is 'More Dangerous Than ISIS And Al-Qaeda Put Together'

The last weeks have seen a further escalation of the tension between Saudi Arabia and Hizbullah. This is evident from statements by Saudi Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer Al-Sabhan, who tweeted his support of U.S. sanctions on Hizbullah, calling it "the Party of Satan,"[1] and urged the establishment of an international coalition to fight the organization. Al-Sabhan even exhorted Lebanon to choose between supporting Hizbullah and opposing it. Al-Sabhan's statements elicited a dismissive response from Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who mocked Al-Sabhan and U.S. President Donald Trump, adding that the resistance camp, to which Hizbullah belongs, is stronger than ever.

In the last few days, the Saudi press published numerous articles that echoed Al-Sabhan's statements, claiming that Hizbullah is a terror organization no different from ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and that the international community should handle it just as it handles these organizations, as part of the war on terror.

It should be noted that the relations between Saudi Arabia and Hizbullah have been tense for years, as part of the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for influence in the region and in especially in Lebanon. According to Saudi Arabia, Hizbullah is not a Lebanese resistance movement but rather an Iranian agent that acts to destabilize Arab countries and to expand Iran's regional hegemony. In March 2016, the Gulf Cooperation Council, in which Saudi Arabia is a central member, even designated Hizbullah as a terror organization.[2]

The current escalation in Saudi Arabia's stance towards Hizbullah apparently stems from its concern about the growing power of the resistance axis, led by Hizbullah and Iran – in light of this camp's military successes in Syria, the possible emergence of a continuous pro-Iranian region stretching from Iraq to Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia's failure to win the war in Yemen against the Houthis, who are sponsored by Iran.

It should be noted that measures to hobble Hizbullah are also underway in the U.S., as part of its struggle against Iran. On October 25, 2017 the House of Representatives approved legislation targeting Hizbullah’s fundraising, recruiting and arming efforts. A separate bill passed the same day urges the E.U. to designate Hizbullah in its entirety as a terrorist organization, not just its military wing.[3]

This report reviews the recent statements by Saudi Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer Al-Sabhan and the response of Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, as well as the calls in the Saudi press to scale up the international campaign against the organization.

Saudi Minister Thamer Al-Sabhan Calls For Establishment Of International Coalition Against Hizbullah; Hizbullah Responds: Trump And Al-Sabhan Do Not Scare Us

Over the past two months, Saudi Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer Al-Sabhan tweeted anti-Hizbullah messages, referring to it as "the Party of Satan," "The Party of Terrorism" and other derogatory terms, and likening it to ISIS and Al-Qaeda. He also tweeted calls to the world to unite and take action against the organization, and protested against its participation in Lebanon's government institutions. On September 4, 2017 he tweeted: "The inhuman crimes committed against our nation by the Party of Satan [Hizbullah] will no doubt have repercussions for Lebanon. The Lebanese must choose between supporting [Hizbullah] and opposing it. Arab blood is dear."[4] One month later, on October 8, 2017, Al-Sabhan tweeted, referring to the sanctions that the U.S. was considering imposing on the organization: "The American sanctions against the Terrorist Militia Party in Lebanon are good; however, the solution is [to establish] a resolute international coalition that will fight it and whoever acts with it, for the purpose of achieving regional peace and security."[5]

Continuing along the same lines, and even criticizing Hizbullah's participation in the Lebanese government and parliament, he tweeted on October 12: "Terrorism is terrorism and it should be fought everywhere. Would the world conceivably be happy if ISIS or Al-Qaeda elements were present in countries' parliaments and governments? The world must unite against the parties of evil."[6] The following day, he tweeted: "The Party of Terrorism [Hizbullah] and the one who is operating it [Iran] should not assume that its dirty behavior against the kingdom [i.e. Saudi Arabia] and the Gulf states will go unpunished. The kingdom will chop off the hand of anyone who attempts to harm it."[7]

Hizbullah did not remain indifferent to these statements. In an October 8, 2017 speech, Nasrallah said: "Hizbullah is too big for Al-Sabhan and his masters to confront using [their] local coalition, so they called for the establishment of an international coalition to act against Hizbullah. [Al-Sabhan] knows very well that Saudi Arabia and its leaders alone cannot do a thing against Hizbullah. They can curse it on their television channels and pay some people in the papers and the mosques [to malign it]. But what [else] can they do? That is why he [Al-Sabhan] needs an international coalition...

"Today our axis is stronger than ever... in terms of gear, manpower and experience... When you have such jihad fighters you are not afraid of a braggart like [U.S. President Donald] Trump or a little boy like Al-Sabhan. They do not scare us and they will change nothing... We want Lebanon to be united and to live in coexistence and brotherhood. [We want] a strong, honorable, sovereign, free and independent Lebanon. Any hand that reaches out [to harm] this country will be chopped off."[8]

Saudi Articles: Hizbullah Must Be Added To Global Terrorism Index; Lebanese Government Must Expel It From Its Ranks

As stated, Minister Thamer Al-Sabhan's statements were echoed in many articles in the Saudi press, which called upon the international community to act against Hizbullah as firmly as it acts against ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and exhorted the Lebanese government to expel it from its ranks.

Senior Saudi Journalist: Hizbullah Has Nothing To Do With Resistance; It Is More Dangerous Than ISIS And Al-Qaeda Put Together

Prominent among the articles was one by senior journalist Hussein Shobokshi, who, in his column in the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, called on the international community to stop handling Hizbullah with kid gloves and fight it as part of the war against terror. In his article, titled "What About Hizbullah?", he wrote: "News [reports] about the defeat of the ISIS terrorist organization in Iraq and in Syria... keep coming, one after another, and the outcomes [of the battles there] are gladdening, and herald the imminent end of this criminal gang. However, there are still questions regarding what happened to the leader of the organization, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and to its fighters, who suddenly and oddly 'evaporated' just as they appeared – that is, suspiciously.

"The war on terror is desirable and even mandatory. There is no difference between negligence in its implementation and betrayal. No one disputes the war against Al-Qaeda and ISIS; it is even necessary, since both are leaders of terrorism. However, it must be asked why [the world] treats ISIS and Al-Qaeda with an iron fist, yet handles Hizbullah with kid gloves.

"It is not clear why the international community is gentle with Hizbullah, which has been convicted of many diverse crimes in Lebanon and around the world via its proxies. Hizbullah fought to protect the regime of a tyrant [i.e. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad], who murdered women and children, demolished homes, and destroyed mosques; shelters wanted criminals [accused of] numerous offenses; runs terrorist organizations in Arab countries; smuggles drugs, and launders money. It has committed every evil and sick crime, every transgression, and every forbidden act. Nevertheless, there has been no focused campaign to eliminate it. Its leaders move in complete freedom, and deliver speeches in public places.

"Even Hassan Nasrallah, who claims to be the leader of the anti-Israel resistance – a title that even he himself does not believe – has never been the target of an assassination attempt by Israel or its allies.

"It is no longer acceptable for the international community to continue to treat this terrorist organization politely and to discriminate against it [relative to ISIS and Al-Qaeda] by 'taking pity on it.' The Hizbullah terrorist organization is extremely dangerous, because, as I have stated more than once, and as its leaders acknowledge, it is part of the plan to export the Iranian revolution that aims to re-draw the [borders of] Arab countries, and whose bloody fingerprints we see everywhere.

"Hizbullah has become more dangerous than ISIS and Al-Qaeda put together. This organization is cunning and [operates according to] a plan – unlike the stupid and impulsive ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Wherever it goes, it succeeds in infiltrating, inciting, and provoking civil wars; the price of its presence is very high.

"It cannot be argued that the war on terrorism is just, fair, and wise if it doesn't include Hizbullah and if its commanders are not brought before the International Court of Justice for their crimes. Hizbullah is a bloodthirsty criminal organization and has nothing to do with resistance...

"Any regime that bases its legitimacy on Hizbullah's partnership in government is a partner in crime. In a clean and free world, there is no room for an entity like the Hizbullah organization..."[9]

Sa'd Bin 'Abd Al-Qader Al-Quway'i wrote in a similar vein in his column in the government Al-Jazirah daily: "After it [Hizbullah] clearly damaged the sovereignty, security and stability of several Arab countries and violated clauses of international law, it is most important to identify the best way to tackle its growth and the spread of its influence – because they are just as dangerous as its military terrorist activities. This necessitates international security coordination, which is the most appropriate response and the best framework in which to focus further pressure on Hizbullah and block its access to the assistance and financing that it receives.

"But the [situation] described above did not come about in a vacuum. Moreover, activity for adding Hizbullah to the Global Terrorism Index is now urgently needed..."[10]


Cartoon in Saudi daily: "Lebanon" trapped by Hizbullah's weapons (Al-Jazirah, Lebanon, September 3, 2017)

Saudi Columnist: Hizbullah's Military And Political Wings Are One And The Same; Hizbullah Must Be Expelled From The Government

Al-Jazirah columnist Jasser 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Jasser devoted a series of articles to the danger posed by Hizbullah, in which he welcomed the U.S. intention to impose new sanctions on this organization. He also called on the E.U. countries to acknowledge that there is no distinction between Hizbullah's military and political wings, and urged Lebanon to expel Hizbullah's ministers from the government, in order to avoid being targeted by sanctions.

In an October 21, 2017 article, Al-Jasser wrote: "Efforts to expose Hizbullah's [true] face are now increasing, in a bid to expand the international circles that designate all the components and branches of the Lebanese Hizbullah, whether military or political, as parts of a terror organization that must be outlawed and regarded as an organization that spreads terror and hate – as all the Arab Gulf countries and the U.S. are doing. The U.S. and the important Arab capitals are working to convince the European countries that they must stop distinguishing between Hizbullah's two branches, its military and political wings, so as to put an end to the illogical and impractical duality [in Europe's policy towards Hizbullah], and also put an end to the hijacking of Lebanon by [Hizbullah's] so-called political wing, which is fully implementing the terrorist agenda formulated by the mullahs of Iran.[11]

In an article published one day later, on October 22, Al-Jasser called on Lebanon to "expel the ministers of the Hizbullah militias and limit its interaction with Lebanese parties allied with Hizbullah, chief among them the party of Lebanese President [Michel 'Aoun], so that Lebanon does not become a pariah, like [other elements] under Iran's influence. [12]

Saudi Columnist: Both The Head Of The Serpent And Its Tail Must Be Crushed

Muhammad 'Abdallah Al-Hamid, a columnist for the government daily Al-Watan, called to eliminate "the malady of terror," of which Hizbullah is a part: "We saw how, [in August 2017], the leader of that hostile party [Hizbullah] rushed to load the remaining ISIS fighters onto fancy busses and transport them from South Lebanon [sic] to the Syria-Iraq border,[13] so that they can continue the civil war they are waging as a service to the 'Persian' state [with the aim of] spreading its influence to the neighboring countries and to other countries around the word. Nasrallah has declared explicitly and unequivocally that he and his supporters bear the banner of the Rule of the Jurisprudent [i.e., the Iranian regime]... Cloaking themselves in slogans of resistance, they hijack the decisions of the Lebanese [state], spread chaos and undermine the security and stability of the neighboring [countries], in obedience to the Fascist enemy [Iran]. By means of the Houthis, they helped [Iran] against the people of Yemen and [Yemen's] great neighbor, Saudi Arabia... There is no choice but to crush [both] the head and the tail of the serpent, restore peace and quiet in the region and expunge the malady of terror."[14]

 


[1] This is a play on the name Hizbullah, which means "the party of Allah."

[2] Alarabiya.net, March 2, 2016.

[3] Washingtonpost.com, algemeiner.com, October 25, 2017.

[4] Twitter.com/thamersas, September 4, 2017.

[5] Twitter.com/thamersas, October 8, 2017.

[6] Twitter.com/thamersas, October 12, 2017.

[7] Twitter.com/thamersas, October 13, 2017

[8] Alahednews.com.lb, October 8, 2017.

[9] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 22, 2017.

[10] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), October 20, 2017.

[11] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), October 21, 2017.

[12] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), October 22, 2017.

[13] This refers to a deal Hizbullah made with ISIS following several days of fighting between the two sides in northeastern Lebanon, on the Syrian border. As part of the deal ISIS fighters and their families were bussed to the Syria-Iraq border, and in return ISIS agreed to a ceasefire, returned the bodies of Hizbullah fighters and of an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) member, and provided information on kidnapped Lebanese soldiers. On this deal, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7077, Iraqi PM Protests Hizbullah-ISIS Deal, Ignites Controversy Within Resistance Camp, September 3, 2017.

[14] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), October 21, 2017.