The true reasons why the Saud regime has designated Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization”.
Condemned, ignored, ostracized and uninvited. These are the obvious desires behind the recent Saudi-dominated Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) and Arab League (AL) declarations that Lebanon’s pre-eminent politico-military force, Hezbollah, be classed as a ‘Terrorist Organization’.
The first of the declarations, made recently by ministers representing the six oil-rich Arab Kingdoms of the Persian Gulf, was made against a backdrop of worsening tensions between the Iran and Saudi Arabia’s House of Saud vis-à-vis the spiraling conflicts in Iraq, Syria and the Yemen.
According to a statement issued by the GCC Secretary General, the decision to declare the popular Hezbollah movement as a terrorist entity was made specifically because of it “recruiting youths of the GCC countries to carry out terrorist acts, smuggling of arms and explosives, inciting sedition and provoking chaos.”
In plain English, it was to say the Lebanese movement had instrumentally placed its fingers in too many regional pies—particularly those that involved coming to the aid of people under the threat of Daesh (a.k.a. the Islamic State or ISIS) and Saudi-sponsored armed campaigns in Syria and the Yemen.
As a result, the absolute-ruling monarchs of the GCC decided to stave of what they perceive as long term threats to the perpetuity of their own rule by punishing Hezbollah in a half-baked attempt at taming its behavior to a point of benignity.
As interesting as it may have been in scripting, it still, for want of a better expression, came out wrong in the wash.
That’s because the GCC declaration and the lurking House of Saud hand behind it appeared, if anything, as a circuitous way of saying ‘we’re terrifyingly insecure.’
In only the last year, the self-appointed custodians of Islam’s two holiest mosques have had to agonizingly witness their plans for an Arab world where they would rule the roost and become the ultimate arbiters in all matters of importance, gradually turn into a state of disarray.
It began with a deathblow to its hopes for an internationally sponsored consensus to forcibly overthrow Bashar Al-Assad, a reality that would have allowed it to repulse what it sees as Iranian machinations in the Arab world.
Then there was the continually disastrous strategy pursued by its goons in Iraq and the Yemen, the frightful string of setbacks faced by its mercenaries in Syria following increased Hezbollah and Russian intervention and the resurgence of Islamic Iran as a sanction-free and regionally-influencing rival.
Initially, the sense of insecurity felt by the House of Saud was manifest by its ending of the ceasefire in Yemen, the execution of forty-seven people at home including a revered Shiite cleric, and the breaking of diplomatic ties with Iran.
The insecurity itself derives from a perturbation that if Iran, mainly through its Hezbollah protégé, manages to create a model for assisting the politically and religiously oppressed of the region, it would ultimately serve as a model for revolt amongst its own disgruntled population and sway allied governments into making concessions that benefit its Iranian nemesis.
And so, in a desperate measure designed to convey ‘some’ semblance of their remaining influence, they decided that it was prudent to isolate the most indispensible conduit assisting those they vehemently oppose in the region: Lebanese Hezbollah.
It started with what can only be described as an attempt at undermining the heavily indebted and fragile economy, in addition to the consociation-based political climate, that volatilely prevails in today’s Lebanon.
They arbitrarily reneged on a much-hyped $3 billion ‘brotherly aid package’ to the Lebanese Army, advised their nationals to refrain from visiting the country and expelled Lebanese workers—many of them Shiite Muslims—from both the kingdom and GCC countries on the grounds of Hezbollah affiliation.
The idea would have been to play Lebanese institutions against Hezbollah so that it’s seen as being culpable for any economic uncertainty that could follow on from its activities in the region.
In Lebanon, this is a particularly sensitive issue considering gulf deposits to its central bank, expatriate remittances and inbound tourist receipts to the country were $860 million, $4.5 billion and the bulk of an estimated $6.4 billion alone in 2015.
Finally, it sent a vociferous message to the world that its new designation for Hezbollah had real political leverage because it was sanctioned with a ‘regional consensus’ in the form of its GCC brainchild and now Arab League rubber stamp of the world’s most democratically elected leaders!
But like most things auspicated by the House of Saud, the practical intent behind their latest endeavor is very unlikely to come to any fruition as maligning Hezbollah for the raw hand they’ve been dealt with in Syria will do little to deter it.
The regions most powerful non-state military force is at the forefront of an existential threat by a vicious and nihilistic cult.
Like it or loath it, are ‘terrorist’ labels really going to discourage it from confronting an evil ideology that buys and sells thousands of minority women for sex exchanges? Destroys mosques and seminaries and publically cuts out and eats organs of the dead before dropping to the ground and yelling ‘God is the Greatest’?
Considering the depth of blood, tears and material resources it has sacrificed in order to diminish the Daesh phenomenon, and not to forget the impact on its home front with being recipients of multiple suicide car bombings on its constituent areas, is it really going to flinch over mere adversarial designations?
If anything, the movement has long history of paying scant disregard to western ‘terrorist’ labels and has in fact flourished to its pinnacle whilst being painted under the banner of such.
As for its major involvement in Iraq and Syria, the world like Hezbollah is well aware that events in those countries have long surpassed the stage where they were witnessing battles for democracy.
They are witnessing armed conflicts between governments and foreign-backed mercenaries trying to murder their way into the centers of power.
They are countries where consortiums of killers were given safe passage to bomb, rape and threaten others whilst utilizing autonomous areas to spread their tentacles in almost every capital of the free world.
As long as there is a cry for help from persecuted Islamic minorities, from people banished and dispossessed of their lands and from benign governments under the threat of regional coercion and infiltration on the premise of sectarianism, Hezbollah is likely to continue obliging with fighters, arms and technical know-how indefinitely.
Perhaps with this in mind, the House of Saud could do with being reminded that in the end not even the language of blacklisting and force is likely to buy them and their GCC allies extra time for the inevitable and lingering threat to number one: the penchant for absolute-rule at home.