Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is Saudi Arabia Targeting Hezbollah?



Is Saudi Arabia Targeting Hezbollah?



By: Nasser Chararah for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse Posted on July 24.


Hezbollah and Lebanese security officials' fears have become reality during

the past two weeks. The explosion that targeted the heart of Hezbollah’s

most secure neighborhood and the bomb ambush of one of the party’s convoys

along Chatoura Road leading to the Syrian border on July 16 embodied what

had until recently been mere conjecture: the start of an open war against

Hezbollah in Lebanon, with the aim of punishing the party for its

involvement in the battle against the Syrian opposition in Qusair. Behind

the scenes, it seems Hezbollah is hinting at Saudi Arabian involvement in

these attacks, specifically accusing the director-general of Saudi

intelligence, Bandar bin Sultan, who Hezbollah considers responsible for

funding and conducting these attacks.


According to informed sources, the ruling family in Riyadh is suffering

internal divides during this stage, linked to the ongoing conflict between

the princes of the second generation, in full view of those of the first

generation [sons of King Abdulaziz]. According to these sources, it seems

that Prince Bandar bin Sultan is taking advantage of this reality to

independently make the decision to implement a security agenda against

Hezbollah in Lebanon. Furthermore, the climate of tension within ruling

circles and among sheikhs in Saudi Arabia assisted him in this. These

circles are experiencing high degrees of sectarian tensions with Hezbollah,

and are demanding that the latter be punished for its public involvement in

the Syrian regime's war against the opposition.


Despite the repeated blows lately suffered by Hezbollah, the battle is still

in its infancy, and many hope it will not escalate to a wide-ranging and

open war between Riyadh and the Syrian opposition on one end and Hezbollah

and Iran on the other. On July 18, a newsflash from Bahrain stated that an

explosive device had detonated near a Sunni mosque. If only theoretically

and for the purpose of political analysis, one might infer that this

incident was Iran’s counterpunch following its accusation that Riyadh was

behind the attacks against Hezbollah in the last two weeks.


It is difficult to believe that the war against Hezbollah, if it were to

endure, would remain confined to Lebanese soil. For the chaotic atmosphere

that prevails in the region has rendered it easy prey for demographic,

religious and sectarian cross-border reactions that spread from one country

to another like an infectious plague.


According to sources from inside the party, it is too early to ascertain now

how the ongoing war against Hezbollah will play out in Lebanon. But a party

official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Al-Monitor on Sunday July

21, that the latest targeting of Hezbollah’s neighborhoods and convoys

indicated that the decision had been made to open a war against Hezbollah in

Lebanon, and that this war would expand. The party was wagering on outside

intervention to put an end to it, because its continuation would negatively

affect Lebanon’s internationally sanctioned stability. But if intervention

were not to occur, then the party would find itself compelled to respond

with self-defense.


The words of this Hezbollah official seem to indicate that the party will

not rush to react, and is hoping that these blows against it were only meant

to convey a political message, no more. But if it turns out that the war is

an open one, then the situation will grow much more dangerous, not only in

Lebanon, but also in the Arab Gulf states adjacent to Hezbollah’s strategic

ally, Iran.


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