“If I were asked of the greatest and best deed I have accomplished in my lifetime, I would have to say it would be my speech against Saudi Arabia the second day of the start of the aggression on Yemen. An aggression greater than the July war, as the Yemeni people’s oppression surpassed that of the Palestinian people.”
In a fiery speech, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday attacked Saudi Arabia on a number of recent developments in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal of all aid to Lebanon and its armed forces.
Within Lebanon, matters started taking a turn towards a more charged political scene when the 14th of March bloc decided to stand by Saudi Arabia, calling on the Lebanese people to stand by the country that has “long supported Lebanon”, on many occasions stressing Lebanon’s Arabhood and calling for Arab solidarity with Saudi Arabia, hinting at the “Safavid expansionism” (whose avatar in Lebanon would be none other than Hezbollah) and the need to counter it by relying on Saudi Arabia’s warm embraces.
What’s even more surprising is that in an attempt to drive the point home, the bloc actually, in all seriousness, announced that a banner would be circulated in all Lebanese territories, whereby people can pledge their “loyalty” to Saudi Arabia. Mind you they do not mean allegiance, they just want whoever’s footing the bills to see that people are loyal to them for their constant “help”.
This speech by Sayyed Nasrallah ushered in a new level of Hezbollah’s dealings with Saudi Arabia, whereby it would no longer remain silent for any injustices suffered by its hands, as it has since 2005, and has been subject to attacks by the latter on a number of levels, be they economic, political, security, and all matters of others. So what has exactly changed? Nasrallah wonders, that the focus is now placed all of a sudden on Lebanon’s Arabhood. Was Lebanon’s Arabhood ever threatened to begin with? Or is it just a political ploy?
Moreover, if it’s truly about Arabhood, then is it not unlike Arabs and their manners to withdraw a gift after it has been given to someone? Or if the Lebanese truly are guests in their countries as Persian Gulf countries always say they are, is it not unlike Arabs to treat their guests so poorly? The problem is with Hezbollah, Nasrallah said, so if it is so then why does Saudi Arabia have to succumb to attacking the interests of Lebanese citizens in the Persian Gulf or withdrawing aid it had once given to Lebanon? (Which, by the way, was promised to Lebanon in late 2013 and turned out to be a bunch of overpriced discarded weapons)
The aid was actually promised to Lebanon at the end of King Abdullah’s reign, and was then annulled when King Suleiman ascended the throne. However they decided to wait for the opportune moment to blame it on Hezbollah, saying it was Hezbollah’s speeches and stance against Saudi Arabia that caused this.
So apparently, not only is criticism unwelcome, especially from foes, but, as Sayyed Nasrallah said, in the face of all these injustices Saudi Arabia commits, one must remain silent, and should he not, then he will be attacked in the media, in politics, and they will hurt him however they can. This is what the decision touching on Lebanese in the Persian Gulf goes back to. Because if they can’t hurt Hezbollah, then they would make scores of families jobless and blame it on Hezbollah to get back at it.
This Saudi aggression against Hezbollah isn’t something new either. It dates back to 2005, the year Former Prime Minister Rafic al-Hariri was assassinated. Back then Saudi Arabia increased its support for what was to become known as the March 14 bloc, and put its man Saad al-Hariri in charge of the Future Party. Saad, who would later become prime minister, lived for the greater portion of his life in Saudi Arabia, and wasn’t as familiar with Lebanon. However the political void that was to be left by the Syrians’ decision to leave Lebanon had to be filled by someone, and Saudi Arabia would not be left out of the equation. That’s why they engineered the return of Saad al-Hariri to Lebanese, as his father’s successor (the appeal of a filial succession was too strong to ignore).
Ever since then, Saudi Arabia has dealt with Lebanon accordingly. It wants it, then it will have it. Any unwanted voices will be silenced, be that through the multi-billion dollar Saudi media machine, or by way of Saudi Arabia’s agents on the inside, which explains Sayyed Nasrallah’s reference to Saudi Arabia as being behind the car bombs and suicide bombings that have attacked civilians over the past few years.
This isn’t exactly news, as Saudi Arabia’s links with terrorism are well documented and very well-known. Even their allies were quick to shift the blame off themselves and point their fingers towards the Wahhabi state, naming it as a source of funding for al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Wahhabi mosques that spread the extremist doctrine all over the world. Hillary Clinton said so in 2009 in the WikiLeaks cables. Former CIA director James Woolsley did the same in 2011, and so did Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, in 2015.
In short, one can expect little from Saudi Arabia in the near future but to invest heavily in their media machine to put down Hezbollah, which now considers it more dangerous than Israel was to Palestine. Perhaps matters could stray beyond that to continued bombings against civilians in Lebanon so as to deter Hezbollah as well. Only time will tell. One thing’s sure, and that’s that it is not beyond Saudi Arabia to resort to such methods, because it has done so in the past.
This article was written by Karim Charara for American Herald Tribune on Mar. 3, 2016. Karim Charara is a Freelance Writer specializing in Middle Eastern affairs and Identity Politics. He is a University of Tehran graduate.