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

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora