Hezbollah is not just the most powerful actor in Lebanon. It also has a revolutionary vision for West Asia. This vision, and the Iran-backed Shiite movement’s reported roles in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, have long disturbed Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states; so much so that in 2016, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) designated Hezbollah as a “terrorist” entity. At the same time, Hezbollah’s leadership has blamed the rise of the Islamic State group (IS) on “the culture of Saudi Arabia.” It has also accused the Kingdom of stoking sectarian strife in the region.
With the changes taking shape in the region—the Iranian-Saudi détente, normalization between Damascus and Riyadh, and Syria’s return to the Arab League—the question has arisen of how Hezbollah-Saudi relations may be impacted.
At least for now, both sides have toned down their rhetoric. However, imagining Saudi Arabia ceasing to view Hezbollah as a menace is unrealistic. This is mostly due to regional files which have created high levels of...
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