A poster showing Syrian President Bashar Assad (L), Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is seen on a micro bus near Latakia.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hassan Nasrallah, the chieftain of the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah, addressed a crowd of supporters in southern Beirut on Friday, denouncing “the Saudi-American aggression” in Yemen.
The speech, which was given under the banner of “Solidarity with Yemen,” was intended “to voice our condemnation and rejection of the Saudi-American aggression against Yemen and its people and at expressing our support for this noble people,” the secretary-general remarked.
His comments were reported by the Lebanese news site Naharnet.
Nasrallah said that the outcome of the Saudi campaign will be akin to that of the Second Lebanon War, the month-long conflagration that was triggered after Hezbollah guerillas launched a cross-border raid against IDF troops in the summer of 2006.
The Hezbollah leader’s fiery address came just hours after Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would not leave the country, dismissing reports in the Gulf Arab media that he was seeking a safe exit as Saudi Arabian war planes bomb troops loyal to him and their Houthi militia allies.
The United Nations, meanwhile, said about 150,000 people had been driven from their homes by three weeks of air strikes and ground fighting and more than 750 people killed.
Many schools, hospitals and mosques had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict, it said.
A Saudi-led coalition began its air campaign on March 25 after the Houthi rebels, who run most of the country, closed in on the southern port city of Aden and forced the Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour to flee to Riyadh.
The Iran-allied Houthis, a Shi'ite Muslim movement from northern Yemen, have formed an alliance of convenience with Saleh, who is widely believed to be plotting behind the scenes to make a comeback on Yemen's tumultuous political scene.
“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,” Nasrallah said. “Intimidation or threats will not prevent us from continuing to declare our condemnation of the aggression against Yemen.”
“The officials in Saudi Arabia said the war's objective is to defend Yemen's Arab identity, but have the Arab people authorized them to wage a war on Yemen? This is a war against an Arab people,” he said.
“The war's real objective is restoring the Saudi-American hegemony over Yemen.”
Nasrallah even went so far as to accuse the the House of Saud of complicity in the rise of Islamic State, which he says threatens the Islamic holy shrines in Mecca.
“The prophet's Mosque is facing a threat, but the threat is coming from inside Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabi ideology and culture,” he said. “Who is threatening the two holy mosques? Ansarullah? The Yemenis? I can confirm to you that there is a threat against the two holy Mosques, but it is coming from Daesh [the Arabic acronym for Islamic State], which after declaring a caliphate in Mosul announced that it will demolish the Holy Kaaba.”
"After 28 days of aerial and naval bombardment, fierce airstrikes and all forms of intelligence and logistical support that were offered by the Americans, there has been failure to return Mansour to Yemen, as he is still in Riyadh,” Nasrallah said.
“Remember the July War (Hezbollah’s term for the Second Lebanon War of 2006) and observe the resemblance,” Nasrallah said. “A fierce media campaign was waged, but we ‘the adventurers’ emerged victorious. It is the same war, same thinking and same management and the outcome will be the same.”Reuters contributed to this report.