Saudi Arabia imposes sanctions on two Hezbollah leaders

Friday 22/05/2015
Toward confronting Hezbollah’s schemes by all means

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced sanctions against two alleged leaders of Lebanon's powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, including one it accused of "interfering" in Yemen.

Tensions between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Shiite Iran have risen since late March when a Riyadh-led coalition began bombing Iran-backed Huthi Shiite rebels in neighbouring Yemen.

Iran provides military aid and support to Hezbollah, which backs the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Riyadh supports Sunni-led rebels in Syria.

Iran denies arming Yemen's Huthis.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said the two individuals sanctioned by the kingdom were "responsible for activities ranging from supporting the Assad regime in Syria, including by sending fighters, paying sums of money to different factions in Yemen and to military leaders responsible for terrorist attacks in the Middle East."

It accused Khalil Yousif Harb, 56, of being a senior Hezbollah military figure "involved in Hezbollah's political interference in Yemen," including the alleged transfer of money.

The other suspect, Mohammed Qablan, born in 1969, was the alleged leader of a Hezbollah "terrorist cell" sentenced to life in prison in absentia by a Cairo court, SPA said.

Saudi Arabia is to freeze any assets of the two men under its sanctions, SPA said.

The United States on Wednesday commended Saudi Arabia for imposing sanctions on the two senior officials of Hezbollah group and designating them as terrorists.

The United States designated the two officials, Khalil Youssef Harb and Mohammed Qabalan, in 2013 for overseeing "violent operations" in the Middle East.

"Today's step taken by Saudi Arabia reflects the close counter-terrorism and information sharing cooperation we enjoy and look forward to extending further," said Adam Szubin, US Treasury acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.