News / Middle East

    Gulf States to Launch Sanctions Against Hezbollah

    Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah  addresses his supporters from a screen during a rally to commemorate Hezbollah Wounded Veterans Day in Beirut suburbs, Lebanon, June 14, 2013.
    Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters from a screen during a rally to commemorate Hezbollah Wounded Veterans Day in Beirut suburbs, Lebanon, June 14, 2013.
    Phillip Walter Wellman
    Gulf Arab states are preparing to launch a series of measures against Hezbollah’s interests in the region. The move is in retaliation for the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group’s growing military involvement in Syria.

    The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, recently announced it would begin imposing sanctions against Hezbollah associates.

    Officials said the measures will target suspected affiliates’ “residency permits and financial and commercial dealings.”

    The action comes after Hezbollah sent forces to Syria, which played a major role in helping pro-government troops recapture the strategic town of Qusair.

    How Syria's Death Toll Compares:

    2011-2013 - Syria: 93,000
    2003-present - Sudan: 300,000
    2003-present - Iraq: 190,000
    2001-present - Afghanistan: 20,000
    1992-1995 - Bosnia: 200,000
    1994-present - Chechnya: 75,000-150,000
    1994 - Rwanda: 800,000-1 million
    1983-2009 - Sri Lanka: 100,000
    1980s-present - Somalia: 500,000
    1978-1990 - Nicaragua: 70,000
    1975-1990 - Lebanon: 150,000
    Theodore Karasik is the director of research and development at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis:

    "Hezbollah has entered into Syria in a very serious manner and this is causing a ripple effect across the region, where there may be sympathizers for Hezbollah’s movement, and I think that the GCC is attempting to show whose side they are really on," he said.
     
    Most Muslim states, including those in the Gulf, have traditionally approved of Hezbollah as a bulwark against Israel, despite regarding it as an Iranian proxy.

    Hezbollah's increasing involvement in Syria, however, has shifted sentiments and has intensified the rift between Sunnis and Shi’ites. A Shi’ite Muslim offshoot dominates Syria’s government and Shi'ite Muslims constitute a majority in Iran.
       
    Last week, Muslim clerics representing 70 influential Sunni organizations called for a holy war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Shi’ite allies.

    Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have both used their oil fortunes to gain political influence in the region, are among the strongest critics of Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria. And according to news reports, both nations have been actively involved in helping to arm the anti-Assad rebels.

    According to Michael Stevens, a researcher at RUSI Qatar, their opposition stems in part from concerns that the GCC is in a less commanding position.

    "I think what we see is that there is just an existential fear of Iran gaining in the region and of the Gulf states having put a lot of money, time, weapons and diplomatic effort behind one side of the Syrian conflict only to see the Shi’ite forces within the region mobilising and starting to beat them back," said Stevens.

    Analysts say Gulf nations are also using the Syria conflict as a way to clamp down on sources of dissent at home.

    Bahrain’s Sunni rulers have been dealing with a pro-reform uprising led by the nation’s Shi’ite majority since 2011. Bahrain accuses Hezbollah of backing and training radical gangs inside the kingdom, a claim Hezbollah denies.

    In a televised address Friday, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah announced that his troops would continue fighting in Syria.

    And according to analyst Karasik in Dubai, the GCC is preparing itself for any eventuality.
     
    "If the current trajectory holds, which is very difficult to ascertain because it could go in a number of different directions, I would suspect that there would be a further divide between the Sunni and the Shi’ite states and their supporters in the region and that’s going to have a massive spill over effect on neighboring countries," he said. "So what the GCC states are doing now is what they do best together: defense and homeland security."

    Gulf officials have signalled that when it comes to Hezbollah, nothing is being ruled out.

    • This citizen journalism image provided by Lens Young Homsi shows buildings damaged by fighting between rebel fighters and Syrian government forces in Homs province, Syria, June 18, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters fire back during what activists say were clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad, in Deir al-Zor, June 17, 2013.
    • A man walks along a street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor, June 17, 2013.
    • Members of the Free Syrian Army react as they fire a rocket in Deir al-Zor, June 16, 2013.
    • A man belonging to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stands next to spent ammunition rounds in Tal El-Tineh village outside Aleppo, Syria, June 16, 2013.
    • Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen in Tal El-Tineh village outside Aleppo, Syria, June 16, 2013.
    • Ammunition and an abandoned military truck belonging to forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad is seen after clashes in Raqqa province, eastern Syria, June 16, 2013.
    • Residents are seen as forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad enter Ain-Assan village outside Aleppo, Syria, June 15, 2013.

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    June 17, 2013 5:30 PM
    This is great news, and if Hezbolah is heading into Syria to kill Syrians then the world should intervene and stomp out Hezbolah for their terrorist actions getting involved in the genocide with Assad in Syria. Anyone who backs Assad is a terrorist, Hezbolah was already labeled a terrorist group, if they are working with Assad this just reassures the world that Assad in fact a terrorist himself, inflicting terror on the people of Syria. He was already guilty of acts of terrorism but the Hezbolah just reassures everything.

    by: sds from: ukraine
    June 17, 2013 5:07 PM
    Gulf???????????you mean Persian Gulf ,please be clear ...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.