TEHRAN — Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday lashed out on Twitter at the US and Saudi Arabia for imposing sanctions on leaders of its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
“Israeli snipers shoot over 2,000 unarmed Palestinian protesters on a single day,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet referring to protests and clashes in the Gaza Strip that killed some 60 people this week.
The “Saudi response, on eve of Ramadan? Collaboration with its US patron to sanction the first force to liberate Arab territory and shatter the myth of Israeli invincibility. Shame upon shame,” he said.
The United States and six Gulf Arab states announced sanctions Wednesday on the leadership of Hezbollah, as Washington seeks to step up economic pressure on Iran and its allies in the region after President Donald Trump withdrew this month from the 2015 nuclear deal.
The US and Saudi-led Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center said the sanctions were aimed at Hezbollah’s Shura Council, the powerful Lebanese group’s decision-making body, led by its secretary general Hassan Nasrallah.
Nasrallah, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qasim, and three other Shura Council members were listed under the joint sanctions, which aim at freezing vulnerable assets of those named and blocking their access to global financial networks.
At the same time, the six Gulf members of the TFTC — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates — declared sanctions on another nine individuals and firms part of or linked to Hezbollah that were already blacklisted by the US Treasury.
Hezbollah is a key player in Lebanese politics, and it maintains its own arsenal of weapons and fighting force.
The group is fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar Al Assad’s military, and it has trained Iraqi Shiite militias which participated in retaking territory from Daesh.
The sanctions by Gulf states follow two US moves this month to put pressure on Iran’s financial networks, including sanctions announced Tuesday aimed at an alleged financial pipeline that moved “hundreds of millions of dollars” from Iran’s central bank through an Iraqi bank to Hezbollah.
The European Union has viewed Hezbollah’s armed wing as a “terrorist” organisation since 2013.
In 2016, the six Arab Sunni powers of the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman — designated Hezbollah a “terrorist” organisation.