In the latest turn of events surrounding the Saudi Arabia – Iran proxy war, Saudi Arabian officials on Sunday stated that anyone affiliated with the Lebanese, Iranian-backed Shi’ite Islamist group Hezbollah, will come under “severe penalties” from the Saudi Arabian government. This includes persons who may be Hezbollah sympathizers, financial supporters and/or harbors Hezbollah members.
Last week, the Gulf Cooperation Council voted unanimously to put Hezbollah on its terrorist list, a move that ired Iran and further fueled the tensions between the two countries. With the Gulf Cooperation Council declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organization, it enables additional possibilities of further sanctions to tighten the grip on Hezbollah and its influence in Lebanon and where its fighters are alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
A statement by the Saudi Arabia Interior Ministry stated the following:
“Any citizen or resident who supports, shows membership in the so-called Hezbollah, sympathises with it or promotes it, makes donations to it or communicates with it or harbours anyone belonging to it will be subject to the stiff punishments provided by the rules and orders, including the terrorism crimes and its financing.“
Hezbollah has close ties to Iran, a bitter rival of Saudi Arabia regarding power in the region, which has led to numerous proxy wars over the years between the two countries. While Saudi Arabia supports the Syrian opposition, it blames Iran and Hezbollah for helping Assad stay in power after five years of war in Syria.
Saudi Arabia’s newest anti terrorism laws (2014) are some of the strictest in the world thanks in part to what the Kingdom deems/interprets as “terrorism.”
The new law defines terrorism as any criminal act that “destabilises the society’s security or the state’s stability or exposes its national unity to harm”. It also states that terrorist acts include “disabling the ruling system” or “offending the nation’s reputation”.
Sentences given for terrorism acts in the Kingdom range from long-term prison stays to execution, which anyone who supports Hezbollah will probably be subjected to the latter given the extreme amount of hatred Saudi Arabia has for Iran and Hezbollah.
Will the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalate into a full war between the two countries? What will be the next move for Iran or Hezbollah after this? Sound off in the comments below!