Saudi Arabia extends Hezbollah sanctions
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Saudi Arabia extends Hezbollah sanctions

Sunni-ruled kingdom freezes assets, bans dealings with 3 Lebanese nationals, four companies in latest move against Shiite group

US President Barack Obama speaks with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC on September 4, 2015. (AFP Photo/Yuri Gripas)
US President Barack Obama speaks with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC on September 4, 2015. (AFP Photo/Yuri Gripas)

Saudi Arabia on Friday extended sanctions on Hezbollah, in its latest action against the powerful Lebanon-based Shiite militant group fighting in support of Syria’s regime.

The kingdom froze the assets and prohibited dealings with three Lebanese nationals and four companies.

It named the individuals as Fadi Hussein Sarhan, Adel Mohammed Sheri and Ali Hussein Zuaitar.

Saudi Arabia also sanctioned Vatech Sarl, Le-Hua Electronic Field Co Ltd, Aero Skyone Co Ltd and Labico Sal Offshore.

The United States Treasury Department last year sanctioned Beirut-based Sarhan and his firm Vatech Sarl, along with Sheri, of Shenzhen, China, and his firm Le-Hua Electronic Field Co.

Members of Hezbollah attend the funeral of Ali Ahmed Sabra, a fellow fighter who was killed in combat alongside Syrian government forces in Aleppo, on February 6, 2016, in the Lebanese village of Jibshit. (AFP / MAHMOUD ZAYYAT)
Members of Hezbollah attend the funeral of Ali Ahmed Sabra, a fellow fighter who was killed in combat alongside Syrian government forces in Aleppo, on February 6, 2016, in the Lebanese village of Jibshit. (AFP / MAHMOUD ZAYYAT)

It alleged they were responsible “for providing material support to enhance the group’s military and terrorist capabilities.”

Sarhan purchased unmanned aerial vehicles, while Sheri facilitated Hezbollah’s efforts to obtain electronics “for transport to Yemen for use in improvised explosive devices by the Houthis,” the US Treasury Department alleged.

Saudi Arabia since last March has led an Arab coalition supporting Yemen’s government fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels which seized the country’s capital and other areas.

On Tuesday, Riyadh urged Saudis to leave Lebanon and to not travel there “for their safety,” after the kingdom halted a $3 billion program funding French military supplies to Beirut.

Riyadh cut the aid in response to “hostile” positions linked to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is backed by Saudi Arabia’s regional Shiite rival Iran, with whom its relations have worsened this year.

Qatar and Kuwait followed with similar travel advisories. But the United Arab Emirates went further, banning its nationals from travel to Lebanon and reduced diplomatic representation there.

Announcing the Saudi aid halt a week ago, an official said the kingdom had noticed “hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state.”

Riyadh was making “a comprehensive review of its relations with the Lebanese republic,” the unnamed official said, cited by the Saudi Press Agency.

He noted specifically Lebanon’s refusal to join the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in condemning attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran last month.

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran after demonstrators burned its embassy and a consulate following the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

In November, the kingdom added 12 names to a blacklist of individuals and firms allegedly linked to Hezbollah.

Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia has long been deeply suspicious of Hezbollah and its ties to Iran which gives military aid to the group.

Riyadh and its Gulf Arab allies have stepped up sanctions against Hezbollah and its alleged leaders since 2013 in retaliation for its intervention in the Syrian war to support Assad.

Saudi Arabia backs rebels opposed to Syria’s government.

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