Hizballah chief accuses Saudi Arabia of collective punishment

Hizballah chief accuses Saudi Arabia of collective punishment
Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday accused Saudi Arabia of collectively punishing Lebanon due to its opposition to his group.
2 min read
02 March, 2016
Nasrallah said Saudi Arabia has a problem with Hizballah [AFP]

Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday called on Saudi Arabia not to collectively punish Lebanon's people just because Riyadh opposes his group's policies.

In a televised address, Nasrallah said Saudi Arabia does not have "the right to sanction the Lebanese people because one particular party took a certain position".

Last week, Riyadh halted a $3 billion programme to fund and equip Lebanese security forces and urged Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon in response to "hostile" positions linked to Hizballah.

The UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar also followed the Saudi lead and called on their citizens to avoid travelling to Lebanon.

A large number of Lebanese expats in Saudi Arabia were reportedly sacked last week and were ordered to leave the country, raising fears that similar measures could implemented by other Gulf nations, where more than half a million Lebanese nationals live and work.

The withdrawal of Saudi Arabia's financial aid has sparked a war of words between opponents and supporters of Hizballah in Lebanon.

Nasrallah said the kingdom's recent decisions were solely due to its opposition to Hizballah, adding that the military funding had been frozen since the death of Saudi's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in January 2015.

"If there's a criminal, I'm the criminal, Hizballah is the criminal," Nasrallah said Tuesday.

"If you have a problem with us, you can continue doing so - but what does the rest of the country have to do with it," he asked.

Nasrallah also accused Saudi Arabia of trying to spark "sedition between Sunni and Shia Muslims" when it executed Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr on 2 January.

He also accused Saudi of carrying out "crimes" in Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain "for the past 10 years, for the past 100 years, since the regime came into power".

"They can start wars and commit massacres... but no one can say anything for fear of sparking Saudi wrath," he said.

Nasrallah pledged Hizballah would continue to speak out against what it saw as Saudi aggression in the region.

Riyadh backs the five-year uprising in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad, while Hizballah has intervened militarily on Assad's behalf.

"We are happy with the truce and God willing it will persist and lead to a political solution," said Nasrallah.

Nasrallah said anyone who wanted to come visit Lebanon should feel reassured that "there is no security problem in the country".

Agencies contributed to this report