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Nasrallah Slams Saudi over Yemen Op, Says It Did Nothing for Arabs Other than 'Sending Daesh'

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah lashed out Friday at Saudi Arabia over its military intervention in Yemen, accusing the Gulf kingdom of turning a blind eye to the Palestinian people's plight and of financing the Islamic State extremist group.

And as he called for returning to dialogue and political initiatives in war-torn Yemen, Nasrallah stressed that any ground invasion will end up in failure.

“For decades, the people of Palestine and the countries neighboring Israel did not feel any 'Firmness Storm', not even a 'firmness breeze',” said Nasrallah in a televised address, mocking the Saudi-led “Firmness Storm” campaign against Yemen's Huthi rebels.

“The Palestinian people are still pleading to you and the houses of thousands of Gazans were destroyed. They are Sunni Muslims and they urged the Arab leaders who did not bat an eye. Where did you bring this resolve, nobility and firmness from?” he added.

Riyadh began its airstrikes in Yemen overnight Wednesday, announcing that it has put together a coalition of more than 10 countries, including five Gulf monarchies, for the military operation to defend Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's government.

The military move against the Shiite Huthi rebels triggered fury from Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, Hizbullah's main regional ally, with officials in Tehran warning that the military action threatened to spill over into other countries.

“If the objective is to rescue the Yemeni people, why did you abandon the Palestinian people for decades? Why did you betray them? If the objective is to restore legitimacy in Yemen, why didn't you seek that for Palestine?” Nasrallah added.

Dismissing Saudi justifications that a Huhti-controlled Yemen poses a threat to the kingdom, Hizbullah's leader went to say: “You did not sense any threat coming from Israel, which has one of the biggest armies in the world. Israel borders your seas and oceans, but it was never an enemy for you or a threat.”

“Sanctions and calls for dialogue could have preceded the decision to resort to the military option, so why did you rush to war, which should have been kept as the last remedy?” Nasrallah wondered.

He noted that the Huthis had been engaged in dialogue with the Saudis prior to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz's death in January.

“On the eve of King Abdullah's death there was a delegation holding negotiations and they went to political dialogue in Riyadh, but everything changed with the new Saudi rulers,” Nasrallah lamented.

“What did the Huthis do for you to accuse them of threatening your security?” he added, addressing Riyadh.

Turning to accusations that Tehran was behind the Huthis' dramatic power grab in Yemen, Nasrallah described the allegation that Yemen has become “occupied by Iran” as “one of the biggest lies that are being circulated.”

“Where is your proof that Yemen is under Iran's occupation? Where are the Iranian military bases and armies in Yemen?” he said.

“Saudi Arabia has been interfering in everything in Yemen, but where is security and where is prosperity in Yemen? Why did you refuse Yemen's membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council? Didn't you deal with the Yemeni people in an arrogant and insulting manner? Didn't you voice support for the eradication of Huthis?” Nasrallah charged.

Noting that Tehran is “not imposing anything or interfering” in Yemen, Hizbullah's secretary general said Riyadh is “pushing entire Yemen to embrace Iran, the same as it did with Iraq, Palestine and Syria.”

“The real reason (behind the military operation) is that Saudi Arabia has lost its hegemony and bets in Yemen and lost hope in its takfiri groups. It has sensed that Yemen is now for its people and this war aims to regain hegemony over Yemen,” he pointed out.

“We condemn the oppressive Saudi aggression against Yemen and we call for an immediate end to this aggression. We call for reviving the political initiatives in Yemen,” said Nasrallah.

He underlined that the Yemeni people “has the right to resist and will emerge victorious.”

Warning Riyadh against any ground operation, Nasrallah added: “Is the Saudi army stronger than the American army? Where is the American army in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon? Is the Saudi army stronger than the Israeli army? Where is the Israeli army in the region?”

“Any occupier army will be eventually defeated and an air campaign cannot achieve victory,” he stressed.

Nasrallah also criticized Saudi Arabia over alleged roles in Iraq and Syria.

“What have you done for Iraq? ... When it appeared that the Iraqi people wanted to regain their position and confront (American) occupation, you unleashed al-Qaida and all the takfiri groups against them,” said Nasrallah.

“The Saudi intelligence was behind sending the suicide bombers to Iraq and your latest crime against Iraq was Daesh (IS group), which you and your allies sent to topple (Syrian President) Bashar Assad and al-Maliki's regime” in Iraq, Nasrallah added.

“Your Bandar (Prince Bandar bin Sultan) is the one who financed Daesh,” he said, addressing Saudi Arabia.

As for the domestic situations in Lebanon, Nasrallah commented on the ongoing dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement and the latest sessions of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

“From the very beginning we chose dialogue for the sake of the country and its people. Strength is to sit together, engage in dialogue, defuse tensions and prevent the collapse of the country,” he said.

“From the very beginning, there were political forces inside and outside al-Mustaqbal movement who rejected dialogue and tried to sabotage it, including the testimonies that were given before the tribunal. We do not care about these stances and we will carry on with this dialogue as long as it serves the national interest,” said Nasrallah.

Head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Saniora testified this week before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which has accused five Hizbullah members of involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri.

On Tuesday, Saniora revealed that Hariri had informed him that he had discovered “several assassination attempts by Hizbullah” against him prior to the year 2005.

“Our stance on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is irreversible, that's why we won't comment on anything emanating from it,” Nasrallah said.

He has dismissed the STL as an Israeli-American scheme aimed at harming his party, rejecting any cooperation and vowing that the five accused will never be found.

As for the stalled presidential election, Nasrallah stressed that “Iran will not and has not interfered in the presidential elections.”

“It has nothing do with this issue and the party obstructing the elections is Saudi Arabia, specifically Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal,” he added.

Y.R.


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