Hizbollah rattled by Israel-Saudi meeting


The intensifying ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia have become a major source of worry for the Iranian axis in the Middle East.

Hizbollah Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, devoted a large part of his televised address last weekend to criticising what he called the "disaster which allows the Saudis to make peace with Israel".

Nasrallah was referring to the Saudi delegation to Israel two weeks ago which, while unofficial, was the first such public visit. The group was headed by former Saudi general Anwar Eshki and, while there is no plan for formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, the event was a clear sign of the quiet co-operation between Jerusalem and Riyadh, particularly on confronting the expansion of Iranian influence.

Nasrallah's speech marked the tenth anniversary of the 2006 war between Hizbollah and Israel in Lebanon. He warned against "normalisation of the relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel". Growing friendship between Israel and the Saudis adds to Nasrallah's long list of concerns: in Syria and Yemen, Hizbollah and other Iranian-backed proxies are fighting forces backed by the Saudis and other Sunni-Arab Gulf countries.

Although the Assad regime - propped up by Russia, Hizbollah and Iran - has pushed back Saudi-supported rebel groups in recent weeks, the Saudis have been exerting pressure on Iran in other places. One surprising event this week was Sunday's meeting in Paris between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Maryam Rajavi, leader of the Mujahedin Khalq Organisation (MKO), which opposes the Iranian regime. While the meeting is unlikely to mean active co-operation between the Palestinians and MKO, it was a PR blow to Tehran, which considers itself one of the patrons of the Palestinian cause.

The meeting has been interpreted by many in the region as another push by the Saudis - who provide the Palestinian Authority with aid money - to build a wider coalition against Iran.

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