Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Iran's protégé and partner in the Middle East, seems to be leading the Lebanese people into another catastrophe.
In 2006, Nasrallah initiated a war with Israel that wrought havoc on the Lebanese, after an ambush by Hezbollah in Israeli territory that left three Israeli soldiers dead and two abducted.
Now the Lebanese people are about to pay another heavy price – this time because of Nasrallah's involvement in the Syrian civil war and his strong condemnations of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries over the conflict in Yemen.
During a speech in Beirut last Friday, Nasrallah condemned the Saudi-led "aggression" against Yemen. "It is our human, jihadist and religious duty to take this stance and all the sons of this nation must reassess their responsibilities and take the appropriate stance," he said. "Intimidation or threats will not prevent us from continuing to declare our condemnation of the aggression against Yemen. The war's real objective is to restore the Saudi-American hegemony over Yemen."
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah blasted Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen, in a speech he gave in Beirut on April 17, 2015. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)
The real reason why Nasrallah has come out against the Saudi-led coalition's air strikes in Yemen is that he is worried about the fate of the Iranian-backed Houthis, who are seeking to take over the Arab country. Indeed, Nasrallah has good reason to be worried. A defeat for the Houthis would also be seen as a defeat for Hezbollah and Iran. As Iran's chief puppet in the Middle East (along with Syria's Bashar Assad), Nasrallah wants to see Iran take over most of the Arab countries.
Nasrallah seems determined to achieve this goal at any cost. He does not care if the Lebanese people pay a heavy price for his alliance with Iran.
His attacks on Saudi Arabia and its allies have triggered fears that Lebanese nationals living in the Gulf will be the first to pay the price.
This is precisely what happened to the Palestinians when they supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. After Kuwait was liberated, the emirate and other Gulf countries expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were living and working there.
Now, thanks to Nasrallah's policies and public statements, the Lebanese living in the Gulf could meet the same fate.
"Where does Nasrallah wish to take Lebanon and the Lebanese through his tense speeches against Saudi Arabia?" asked Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. "Has he taken into consideration the consequences of his words on the lives of around 50,000 Lebanese living in Saudi Arabia? The foolish tone of Nasrallah is not beneficial."
Jumblatt was not the only Lebanese politician to express concern over Nasrallah's fiery speech against Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Lebanese Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said Nasrallah should be "ashamed" of his attacks on Saudi Arabia, "which has supported Lebanon's state institutions and has not paid money to any side or sect and has not created militias." Rifi described Hezbollah as a "mere tool" of Iran that "sacrifices itself and its people for the sake of a failing (Iranian) project. ... Hezbollah is turning Lebanon into an operations room to spread Iranian hegemony."
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil warned that his country could plunge into chaos if political powers in Lebanon bet on competing foreign powers and bring regional conflicts into the country.
"We do not have the right to bid on foreign powers and attract conflicts that are bigger than Lebanon and which Lebanon cannot handle," Bassil said. Referring to Hezbollah, he added: "If a group, party or sect still wants to try this after the failure of all past experiences, we would be subjecting our people and our country to an existential threat."
When the Lebanese foreign minister talks about "failure of past experiences," he is obviously referring to the wars with Israel that Hezbollah has brought on Lebanon.
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that Nasrallah's speech against the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was "wailing and crying." He said that Nasrallah was following in the footsteps of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, by adopting "creativity in falsification, misinterpretation, deception, show of force and sectarian mobilization." He said that Hezbollah is "keen to rescue the [Syrian] regime of Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian role in infiltrating Yemen and interfering in Arab affairs."
Lebanese TV anchor Hanadi Zaidan accused Nasrallah of working for Iranian interests and against his home country of Lebanon.
"Hezbollah and its secretary-general [Nasrallah] are the only ones who swim against the Arab and Lebanese current, declaring their blind loyalty to the Iranian birds of darkness," Zaidan said. "His [Nasrallah's] job is to implement an Iranian agenda against the Lebanese state." She added that Nasrallah and his "Iranian masters" have been caught off-guard by the coalition of Arab states in Yemen.
Judging from the reactions of Saudi and other Gulf commentators, it is evident that Nasrallah has already managed to cause huge and irreversible damage to Lebanon's relations with the predominantly Sunni Muslim Arab world.
These commentators, whose views reflect government thinking, have used extremely harsh words to denounce Nasrallah, with some dubbing him "deranged" and an "ingrate."
Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai, said that Nasrallah was a fool.
"A friend informs me that Nasarallat [the nickname Tamim gives to Nasrallah] says that Iran's interference in Yemen is as a charity foundation ... What a fool!" Tamim said.
Tariq al-Hamid, a prominent Saudi editor and political analyst, said that both Iran and Hezbollah have "gone haywire" as a result of the Saudi-led coalition's air strikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.
Al-Hamid pointed out that Iran and Hezbollah were now frustrated because of the severe blows that their allies have been dealt in Yemen. "They were hoping that the Houthi control over Yemen would boost the morale of their followers, who are already frustrated because of what is happening to them in Syria," he said. "All the crazy folks in the region are now targeting Saudi Arabia. What is the difference between Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda? And what is the difference between Iran and the Islamic State? The answer is simple; they are all trying to establish a foothold on the border with Saudi Arabia."
Addressing the Hezbollah leader, a Saudi blogger wrote: "You must pay the price for the crime you committed against Lebanon in 2006, when you destroyed Lebanon through your light-heated actions. All what you were seeking back then was to rally as many Arabs and Muslims behind you through your dirty trick." Another blogger wrote: "It is time for the Arab countries to arrest the terrorist Nasrallah and bring him to trial for his interference in Yemen's affairs and crimes against Syria, as well as his betrayal of his country, Lebanon."
Nasrallah and his Hezbollah terrorist group are now more isolated than ever in the Arab world. Until a few years ago, Nasrallah was seen as a "hero" of the Arab world because of his fight against Israel.
Now, however, many Arabs seem to have woken up to the reality that Nasrallah is nothing but an Iranian puppet whose sole goal is to serve his masters in Tehran. This, of course, is good news for moderate Arabs and Muslims in the region. But it remains to be seen whether the U.S. Administration and other Western powers will also wake up and realize that Iran and its proxies pose a real threat not only to Israel, but also to many Arabs and Muslims.