The leader of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah group unleashed a tirade against Saudi Arabia on Friday over its intervention in Yemen, saying the Sunni kingdom has abandoned the Palestinians and does not care to oppose Israel.
Hassan Nasrallah rejected Riyadh’s claim that it had assembled a coalition to conduct airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels in order to save Yemen, an operation named “Decisive Storm.”
“All that has happened in our region for years did not require Saudi intervention, so why does the current situation in Yemen require such intervention?” he asked. “You say the new situation in Yemen threatens your national security – do you not sense the threat posed by Israel, which possesses one of the strongest armies in the world? The meaning of this is that to these people Israel is not an enemy or a threat that requires such a ‘storm’.”
He said that since Israel was created in 1948 “there has been no decisive storm or even a decisive breeze” to help the Palestinians.
“The Arabs – Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in particular – have abandoned the Palestinian people and left the field clear for Israel to carry out murder and deportation, and for the United States to search for a diplomatic solution that is an illusion,” he said. “They have money, so why do the Palestinian people live in poverty?” He added that Iran has answered the Palestinians’ call for help and gave all the financial, military, and diplomatic support.
Nasrallah also attacked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas because the Palestinian Authority expressed support of the Saudi action in Yemen. “Go sit at home,” was the message he sent to Abbas. “How can you support a war against a people when your people are under occupation?”
Hezbollah, like Yemen’s Houthi rebels, is supported by Iran, which Saudi Arabia views as its main regional rival. Iran has openly armed and assisted Hezbollah since its creation, but both Iran and the Houthis deny it has sent arms to the Yemeni rebels.
Hezbollah’s leader contended that there was no proof of Iran taking over Yemen. “Where are the Iranian armies in Yemen and where are Iran’s military bases there?” It was Saudi foreign policy, he said, that led the region to grow closer to Iran’s Shiite regime: “You are the ones pushing the people of the region into Iran’s embrace.”
“The real reason (for the war) is that Saudi Arabia lost its control and dominance in Yemen and the aim of war is to restore control and hegemony over Yemen. Period,” Nasrallah said. He condemned what he called a “Saudi-American aggression on Yemen, its people, army, installations, present and future.”
Nasrallah called the Saudi action “surprising and painful,” and suggesting Riyadh would suffer a “humiliating defeat” if it didn’t resolve the conflict through negotiations. The Hezbollah leader called for a political solution in Yemen, warning Saudi Arabia that it will not win the war. “Throughout history, invaders were defeated and the invaders were humiliated,” Nasrallah said. “The rulers in Saudi Arabia still have an opportunity in order not to face a humiliating defeat. Nasrallah said the countries taking part in the military campaign should review their policies. “Should the region go to war because of Saudi money?” he asked.
Riyadh’s military intervention is the latest front in a growing regional contest for power with Iran that is also playing out in Syria, where Tehran backs Assad’s government against mainly Sunni rebels, and Iraq, where Iranian-backed Shiite militias are playing a major role in fighting.
Sunni monarchies in the Gulf are backing Hadi and his fellow Sunnis in the country’s south against the Shiite advance.
In some of his harshest comments to date, Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of sending suicide attackers to Iraq and of creating the Islamic State group. Addressing Saudi Arabia, he said Iran had expanded its influence in the region because “you are lazy, losers, and you don’t take responsibility.”