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Cablegate: Saudi Shi'a React to Crisis in Lebanon

VZCZCXRO1951
PP RUEHDE
DE RUEHRH #5709 1991126
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181126Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9739
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2700
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0635

C O N F I D E N T I A L RIYADH 005709

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DHAHRAN SENDS
PARIS FOR ZEYA, LONDON FOR TSOU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL SA
SUBJECT: SAUDI SHI'A REACT TO CRISIS IN LEBANON

REF: A. RIYADH 5601
B. RIYADH 5083

Classified by Acting Consul General Dave Speidel for reason
1.4 (d).

1. (SBU) Based on Internet postings and conversations with
contacts since the confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel
erupted last Wednesday, Saudi Shi'a are unanimous in
condemning Israel's response to Hezbollah's kidnapping of the
two Israeli soldiers, and most Saudi Shi'a seem supportive of
Hezbollah and critical of SAG statements blaming Hezbollah
(without naming it) for starting the crisis (ref A). A
Qatifi family was sitting entranced in front of their plasma
TV when PolOff and PAO arrived as dinner guests on Wednesday,
and one family member said that the Saudi Shi'a would be
"happy" at Hezbollah's action. On July 16 another Shi'a
contact said that Shi'a reactions fell into two categories,
namely those fully supportive of Hezbollah and those who
"thought that Hezbollah had made a big mistake but that the
Israeli response was excessive." He suggested that the
former view was dominant and that those with the latter view
kept it private. Another contact questioned whether the main
purpose behind the SAG's response was to please the USG.

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2. (SBU) Two articles on Rasid News Network (www.rasid.com,
a Saudi Shi'a Internet forum) expand on the views our
contacts expressed. In one, Hussein Al-Alak, who roughly one
month ago published a commentary titled "Screw Hamas" in
protest of Hamas' apparent mourning of Zarqawi's death (ref
B), cheered Hassan Nasrallah on, arguing that he, in contrast
to other Arab leaders, was actively confronting Israel.
Al-Alak suggested that anti-Shi'a bias of President Mubarak
and Jordan's King Abdullah led them to take a position
against Hezbollah. In the second article, Rasid's editors
directly criticized the SAG's response, saying it was
supportive of "the interest of the Israeli enemy" and against
feelings on the Arab street.

3. (C) Comment: The Shi'a reaction is not surprising. It
reflects general Arab street support for anything perceived
as resistance against Israel, as well as a feeling of
solidarity with their co-religionists in Lebanon and a
tendency to interpret regional politics through a sectarian
lens. End comment.

(APPROVED: SPEIDEL)
OBERWETTER

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