Lebanon’s Shiite Hizbullah slams Saudi attack on Yemen

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

Hasan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hizbullah, Lebanese Shiite party-militia, weighed in on Friday on the Saudi intervention in Yemen.

The Saudis put together a Sunni coalition against the Shiite Houthis and have bombed Zaidi Shiite population centers like Sa’adeh. I discussed their motives in my just-published piece in The Nation.

Hizbullah is opposing Saudi policy in Syria effectively, having intervened on the side of Bashar al-Assad, whom the Saudis are hoping to see overthrown. Hizbullah punches above its weight. Lebanon is a small country of 4 million. Shiites are about a third or 1.3 million. Not all Lebanese Shiites support Hizbullah, which has a few thousand fighters. But they managed to shore up the Syrian government where the Syrian Arab Army could not. Hizbullah is closely allied with Iran.

Nasrallah said that the Saudis are engaging in propaganda when they claim to be supporting the elected president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. He said that Mansour Hadi had in fact stepped down from his job, and wondered if the Saudis would go around restoring other former presidents, like Tunisia’s Zain El Abidine Ben Ali, to power. He teased Riyadh that King Abdallah opposed all the Arab Spring revolts and wanted to put the genie back in the bottle. (While it is true that Mansour Hadi resigned, he resigned because Houthi tribesmen were telling him what to do and he was a prisoner. He escaped to Aden in the South and now to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Nasrallah is doing propaganda here in glossing over Houthi dictatorship.)

Second, he said, the Saudis maintain that the Houthi movement is an enemy of Saudi interests. But, he said, the late King Abdallah had found it possible to do deals with them. A Houthi delegation came to King Abdallah’s funeral. Shortly thereafter, the new king, Salman, decided to turn on them and go into Yemen, Nasrallah alleged.

Third, he said, the Saudis maintain that Yemen under the Houthis has become occupied territory, with Iran being the occupier. But, he asked, where are there any Iranian military bases or other signs of occupation in Yemen?

Nasrallah called for peaceful negotiations among the principle parties to find a solution to Yemen’s conflict.

At the same time, Sunni leaders in Lebanon praised the Saudi intervention, as did the leader of the largely Sunni Future Party there, Saad Hariri.

This conjuncture points to increased tensions between Sunnis and Shiites inside Lebanon. They were already divided over Syria, with Shiites mostly supporting al-Assad and Sunnis mostly seeking his overthrow.

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Related video:

RT: “Yemen bombed: ‘Crisis could deepen to all-out Sunni-Shia religious war, real aim is to stop Iran'”

4 Responses

  1. The Houthis arose in response to the Saudi sponored wahabi menace, a quite reasonable response given the Saudis treatment of its own Shi’a minorieties in the N. East and Najran not to mention their support of the repression of Shi’a in Bahrain. The Houthis are not without Sunni allies. Perhaps the virtually universal Yemeni distaste for their Saudi neighbors will galvinize Qahtani resistance against the invaders. Time will tell.

  2. If it wasn’t sectarian before, it is now. Regardless of the little support given to the Houthis, Shia Iran has become isolated. The US, if not international community, are siding with the majority Sunni states who hold the narrative that even accuses Iran for the uprisings of Shia populations in their own states, glossing over their own rule and Sunni extremism or militancy elsewhere for the conflicts.
    The anti-ISIL alignment is a short one, while in the long-term consider Shiite populations to be at the losing end of the conflicts in the region either politically or violently one way or another.

    • Iran is isolated in one direction, but not towards its East.

      link to juancole.com

      According to this, China has big plans for Iran, beyond oil. Pieces of evidence appear, ignored in US media, that China is investing heavily in Central Asia as it searches for markets to bring into its orbit. Since China and Russia, both pro-Assad, control the Shanghai Cooperation Organization where Iran has been kept at arm’s length with observer status, this is more than just an Arab-Persian battle. Which should scare the hell out of us.

      Meanwhile, how far can Saudi Arabia march with Israel and the US at its side before the vast extremist network it fostered turns on it?

  3. China, Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization plus Iran vs. the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia which doesn’t factor in what’s happening in eastern Ukraine with Putin and NATO. The perfect storm is brewing in Yemen, Iran and Ukraine.

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