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Hezbollah escalates rhetoric against Riyadh

While Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia have been at odds for months over their opposing positions in the Syrian war, Hezbollah has recently escalated its rhetoric, directly accusing Riyadh of waging open warfare against the party.
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a religious procession to mark Ashura in Beirut's suburbs November 14, 2013. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Khalil Hassan

During a lengthy televised interview on Dec. 3 with Al-Monitor columnist Jean Aziz, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah verbally attacked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, accusing its intelligence services, led by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, of financing the Islamist suicide bombers perpetrating attacks in Lebanon and Syria. The intensity of his attack reached the point of Nasrallah dissenting from the position of his ally Iran that Israel had been responsible for the twin suicide attacks aimed at leveling the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Nov. 19. Nasrallah opined that Iran, as a nation, is legitimately trying to safeguard its interests and that the embassy bombings were an expression of Saudi anger toward the nuclear agreement reached in Geneva between Tehran and the P+5 powers.

Previously, Nasrallah had never mentioned Saudi Arabia by name when criticizing it. This recent frontal assault, however, reflects the depth of the crisis that has come to mar relations between the two sides. A Hezbollah source speaking to Al-Monitor described the level of tensions as being akin to a declaration by Riyadh of an open security and political war against the party.

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