Adding more fuel to the fire between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] formally designated Lebanon’s Hezbollah a terrorist group (the United States designated Hezbollah [listed as ‘Hizballah’ on the U.S. State Department Foreign Terrorist Organizations website] as a terrorist group in October 1997). The GCC, a Saudi-dominated political bloc, moved on the measure to designate Hezbollah a terror group only a few weeks after Saudi Arabia pulled its $4b aid package meant to stabilize Lebanese security forces. A move that has clearly ired Iran and further escalated tensions between the two Arab countries.
Upon receiving the news of this recent GCC decision, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari praised Lebanon’s Hezbollah as the ‘embodiment of resistance against Zionist occupation and racism’ and that labeling Hezbollah a terrorist group is a ‘new mistake,’ which consequences will lead to more unrest in the region. Ansari said,
“We are proud of Lebanon’s Hezbollah as the vanguard of resistance against the Zionist regime and the champion of the fight against terrorism in the region”
and noted that this was a propaganda attempt by Saudi Arabia to thwart interests in Muslim nations.
The GCC’s scathing statement on Hezbollah leave nothing to the imagination as the GCC heavily condemns Hezbollah for its actions and the reason why it was designated a terror group by the council. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah said,
“[Saudi’s] problem is with Hezbollah,” Mr. Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “They want the government, political powers, and Lebanese people inside and outside Lebanon to stand in the face of Hezbollah so that it abandons its stance from Saudi, even if that requires incitements, civil war or toppling the government.”
This recent move by Saudi Arabia through the GCC not only ups the ante with Iran, but has effects that will be felt in Yemen and Syria as well, thus driving the two Arab countries further deeper into their proxy war with each other. The real danger of this escalation isn’t limited to Saudi Arabia and Iran, its global and has real potential to ignite a bigger war than what is in the Middle East right now.
How will this affect the United States and its relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran? Will this feud escalate between them or will cooler heads prevail? Sound off in the comments below!