Qassem Says Saudi Arabia Made 'Strategic Mistake' in Yemen, Denies Aiding Huthis


Hizbullah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem directed a barrage of criticism at Saudi Arabia on Monday, accusing the kingdom of committing genocide with its airstrike campaign targeting Yemen's Shiite rebels and warning it will "pay a heavy price" for its involvement.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Qassem, said Saudi Arabia made a "strategic mistake" by interfering in Yemen's internal affairs.

More than two weeks of Saudi-led airstrikes targeting Yemen's Shiite rebels, known as Huthis, have failed to stop the rebel power grab. The Saudi campaign has also turned Yemen into a new proxy war between the kingdom and Iran, which has backed the Huthis, though Tehran denies aiding the rebels militarily. Hizbullah is a close Iran ally.

The strikingly tough criticism of the region's top Sunni powerhouse underlines the widening rift between Saudi Arabia and Shiite-led Iran, and is likely to further polarize the Sunni-Shiite divide in a turbulent Middle East.

"Saudi Arabia has embroiled itself (in Yemen) and will incur very serious losses ... that will increasingly reflect on its status, its internal situation and its role in the region," Qassem said.

"What happened in Yemen is a crime that cannot be ignored. ... Saudi Arabia is committing genocide in Yemen, we cannot be silent about that," the Hizbullah No. 2 said, likening the Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen to Israel's bombing campaigns in Gaza.

At least 643 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since March 19, when the Huthi power grab escalated, the World Health Organization said last week — the vast majority of them since the start of the Saudi air campaign on March 26. Another more than 120,000 people have been displaced by the airstrikes, the U.N. said Monday.

While the Iranian-backed Hizbullah has sometimes criticized Saudi Arabia in the past, it has always been careful to maintain a level of respect, particularly in light of the wide support the kingdom enjoys among Lebanon's Sunnis. The Saudi monarch is the custodian of Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina, a position that lends him special importance and influence in the region.

The Yemen campaign has already led to a bitter war of words between Lebanese politicians who support Iran and those who oppose it. The Lebanese are split along political and sectarian lines exacerbated by the 4-year-old conflict in neighboring Syria, and the harsh criticism of Saudi Arabia was likely to inflame sectarian tensions even more.

Speaking in Hizbullah's stronghold in southern Beirut, Qassem suggested that the Saudi-led campaign inside Yemen would lead to problems at home.

"What is happening in Yemen today will reflect on Saudi Arabia internally," he said, adding that the predominantly Sunni kingdom has its own domestic problems that "may cause the internal situation to implode."

"So it would be wiser for it not to interfere in Yemen's affairs in a negative way, but rather in a positive way, by calling for dialogue," Qassem added. Saudi Arabia has called for a negotiated solution and has offered to mediate talks between all parties to the Yemen conflict, but it has refused an immediate halt to the air campaign.

The Hizbullah leader's comments, among the harshest so far leveled by the group against the Saudi-led campaign, echoed those of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who last week also called the Saudi airstrikes genocide.

Qassem urged Saudi Arabia to "return to its senses" and halt the air campaign, which he said was only helping al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen, which is a sworn enemy of the Huthis.

However, he denied accusations that Hizbullah has sent in fighters or advisers to bolster the Shiite rebels. Hizbullah's opponents say it has sent in fighters and Yemeni officials have told the AP it is supplying advisers. Hizbullah denied a report this week in a Saudi newspaper that a Hizbullah fighter died in Yemen.

On Syria, Qassem predicted the war there would continue for a long time, adding that Hizbullah's fighters were preparing to join President Bashar Assad's forces in fighting the Islamic State group in the rugged Qalamoun mountains bordering Lebanon.

"I see the battle in Qalamoun as inevitable," he said, adding that it was delayed because of weather conditions. The battle is likely to pit Hizbullah and the Lebanese army on one side of the border and the Syrian army on the other side, against the Islamic State group and Nusra Front militants.

Thousands of Hizbullah members are fighting in Syria alongside Assad's troops against the mainly Sunni rebels seeking to topple him. Their role — highly divisive in Lebanon — has helped turn the fighting in Assad's favor in several key locations of the war-ravaged country.

Qassem reiterated that the participation of Hizbullah in the war in Syria was to protect Lebanon from Islamic militants.

He insisted the Syrian army was on a winning streak, despite a string of recent military defeats incurred at the hands of rebels, saying they do not change the military situation on the ground.

Comments 32
Thumb liberty 14 April 2015, 07:44

If Saudi Arabia committed a strategic mistake, what is it to you and why do you care (if you are allegedly a Lebanese party) about what happens in Yemen, thousands of kms away. The facts are you are filled with sectarian hatred that dates centuries back. You even had to bury the Huthis spiritual leader in your terrorist's graveyard in dahieh. Enjoy the air show, terrorist. The AH-64 Apaches will be in action in a day or two cleaning up the dirt.

Thumb Mystic 14 April 2015, 08:35

Those Apaches will have Igla-1 missiles following them around the air.

Thumb EagleDawn 14 April 2015, 08:42

meant to ask you Mystic: what's the latest number of F-15s downed by your warriors in Yemen? Two days into the air campaign, you reported a dozen aircrafts were shot down and a few days ago you mentioned 30 Saudi villages have been liberated? what's the latest from Yemen these days......

Missing mohammad_ca 14 April 2015, 09:30

LOL @ 30 Saudi villages liberated...even the Almanar bogus media host was stunned by the statement lol

Thumb Mystic 14 April 2015, 09:44

Many Wahabis are going down indeed, even the military aid packages they parachute to Hadi militias gets seized by Ansarallah fighters.

Thumb ansarullah 14 April 2015, 10:03

Ansarullah and Hizbullah are men of god like all chiaas, but Ansarullah have nuclear weapons.

Default-user-icon jaafar ibn iblees (Guest) 14 April 2015, 10:08

is that a martyred huthi jihadi iranian terrorist family in your avatar, God Forbid?

Missing mohammad_ca 14 April 2015, 12:18

so Mystic you really do believe that 30 villages in Saudi were taken by Houthis?

Default-user-icon tric.portugal (Guest) 14 April 2015, 12:39

S.O.S.... Save the Huthis In Levant...S.O.S.

Missing ya_kord 14 April 2015, 13:49

mystic! although naharnet did not mention the story. hezbollah just lost ground in qalamoun. on top of their losses with the Syrian amry last week things are looking bad. is that why you want us all to get distracted with Yemmen? or do they think yemmen is now more important than Lebanon?

Thumb freedomarch 14 April 2015, 15:12

@ Phoenix, dear friends, look at this, Phonix seems like a nice person trying his best to keep mystic cool, keep mystic happy by trying to show his point and showing his ability to understand where mystic is coming from, but, buttt, our My Stic, mystic the bomabastick, is so convinced that he cansy and do anything without being questioned. Look at this a blunt blind buthead attacking the same person trying to be nice with him on this forum. THIS FORM OF people are the example that we need to deal with every time we see a hizbo.

Thumb freedomarch 14 April 2015, 15:16

MY STIC, QASSIM, A good servent of the rep public of iran, is hated by most Cristians weather Aounis or LF he is hated same like ani sunni like him, he should find whole in some where And spare us his lies taqiyah os part of a real doctrine he believes in.

Thumb Mystic 14 April 2015, 22:07

The Ansarallah will make history. The world will remember how a group of oppressed people rose up and fought slavery. How they fought and pressed on despite heavy bombardments and attacks from all sides, how these honorable people are fighting with bravery is beyond imagination.

This is a real revolution and war for freedom just like we had in the Southern Lebanon 2006 July.

Thumb geha 14 April 2015, 08:05

why did iran send weapons to the huthis in the first place? why did they interfere in the internal affairs of yemen? why did they send military trainers to yemen?

iran started this, and now KSA is trying to restore legitimacy.

Thumb geha 14 April 2015, 08:33

and they call others extremists and sectarian. :)
they always accuse others of what they are.

Missing mohammad_ca 14 April 2015, 09:32

I always find it "funny" how a party that has no respect for Lebanese laws and follows vilayet e faqih and is made up of strictly shias calls others sectarian.

Thumb EagleDawn 14 April 2015, 08:42

The incredible Credible Flamethrower explains the terror party's intervention in Yemen as follows:

hezbollah is the foremost authority in the ME for shias. wherever shias are in danger, you should expect hezbollah to step in."

Thumb geha 14 April 2015, 09:13

they cannot be that arrogant! :)

Missing humble 14 April 2015, 10:06

Ebola is a cancer...and their dog the caporal is playing a dirty role...

Missing humble 14 April 2015, 10:10

Ebola is Iranian, not Lebanese. Any Christian supporting them and their dog the caporal is participating in the destruction of the christians and of Lebanon

Missing humble 14 April 2015, 10:29

The caporal lied about defending the Christians. He is destroying them for the next 100 years.

Thumb ashtah 14 April 2015, 10:29

زارت الصحافية الإسرائيلية أورلي أزولاي رئيسة مكتب #واشنطن لصحيفة يديعوت أحرونوت عدة مدن إيرانية لمدة أسبوعين، مما اضطر وزير الإرشاد والثقافة الإيراني للرد واتخاذ موقف بهذا الشأن إثر الضجة التي أثارتها هذه الزيارة متهما الصحافية بـ "الغش".
وكان الموقع الإلكتروني لصحيفة #يديعوت_أحرونوت ذكر في 31 مارس، أن تلك هي المرة الأولى التي تزور فيها صحافية إسرائيلية #إيران ، التي وصفتها بـ "بلد الألف آية الله" حسب موقع رام الأردني.
وأفادت الصحيفة الإسرائيلية أن أزولاي أجرت عدة لقاءات مع مواطنين إيرانيين، وقالت إنها "تغلبت على مخاوفها ودهشت حين وجدت شبانا إيرانيين يتوقون لزيارة الولايات المتحدة ويحبون إسرائيل".
وقدمت يديعوت أحرونوت شرحا عن زيارة أورلي أزولاي لإيران نقلا عنها، قائلة إنها "قضت 14 يوما متنقلة بين المدن الإيرانية طولا وعرضا، ووجدت مواطنين مفعمين بالأمل بأن يتم التوصل إلى اتفاق يرفع العقوبات عن كاهلهم المُثقل"، لافتة إلى "لحظات التشاؤم والتفاؤل التي مرت بها، خاصة حين تحدثت مع شبان إيرانيين، واكتشفت مدى حبهم للولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل".

Missing humble 14 April 2015, 10:50

Young iranians and ordinary people are different from the Revolutionary Guards who rule the country completely and entirely. The structure that was created by Khomeiny puts them directly under his control and above the president, the government and even the army. They have at their disposal some 200 000 basij who can intervene immediately and repress the smallest street demonstration. They have a license to kill....
The Iranian people have no freedom whatsoever, and they can only dream...may be they will be even prevented from dreaming...
A totalitarian country and a fist of iron dictatorship...try to live with that...

Thumb _mowaten_ 14 April 2015, 11:39

so funny to hear you guys pretend to know iranians so intimately :)

Thumb _mowaten_ 14 April 2015, 11:41

i bet they named you and yediot their official spokesperson :)

Missing humble 14 April 2015, 11:45

Not Mowaten, never Mowaten
Yes you should know Iranians better, you are one of them "not mowaten at all".

Thumb EagleDawn 14 April 2015, 11:51

focus on the article and stop being the usual troll that you are. If you have nothing to say, better remain silent.

Default-user-icon + oua nabka + (Guest) 14 April 2015, 12:14

the only solution for the gulf states is democracy
god bless democracy

Thumb freedomarch 14 April 2015, 14:33

@oua...Same for Iran of yours.

Thumb beiruti 14 April 2015, 15:57

More lies from the mother of liars. The Houthi chief is being laid to rest in Dahiya by Hezbollah and Hezbollah has no involvement in Yemen? Liar. Killun kizabain.

Thumb -phoenix1 14 April 2015, 20:01

Mr. Quassem is like the rest, very good at accusing everyone, and even better at exonerating himself at the expense of others. Like the ostrich who buries its head under ground, it believes that it is night time. Mr. Quassem, please wloh, wake up, Iran is no longer Persia, your Hezbollah cannot go any further than this and now you provoked the KSA and its allies. Pray to God that the Far east doesn't join anytime soon because you, Iran and your party of God is in a lot more trouble than you wish to admit.

Missing peace 14 April 2015, 22:13

how acive those iranian paid stooges are on yemen these days as if defending Lebanon dépends on it! LOL but never a single word on the syrian civilians killed by their beloved assad.... never had they held the same speech about the people of syria asking for their rights! LOL

pityful hypocrites and pityful parrots we have on this site defending them with not a single ounce of thinking....