Nasrallah mocks US-led naval coalition against Houthis for including Seychelles

Hezbollah leader says he had to google the small island nation, which he called 'Senshel, Menshel'

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gives a televised speech on Friday. AFP
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Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in his Friday speech praised Yemen’s Houthi movement and mocked Operation Prosperity Guardian, the US-led multinational naval coalition formed to protect commercial traffic from Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

While much of Mr Nasrallah's speech focused on condemning Israel and the US, he also turned his attention on an unexpected target – the small island nation of the Seychelles, which recently joined the maritime coalition.

“‘Senshel’, ‘Menshel’, whatever its name is … I had to google it to find out where it even is,” he said, laughing. “Turns out it’s an island at the end of the earth.”

The Seychelles is the smallest country in Africa and the least populated, with an estimated 100,600 people living there. It also has the most prosperous economy in sub-Saharan Africa and is reliant on tourism and fishing.

Meanwhile, Lebanon is in a state of protracted economic crisis that is considered by the World Bank to be among the worst in modern history.

The Seychelles is not, however, known for having a powerful navy.

Yemen's Houthis have attacked commercial ships in the Red Sea, disrupting global supply routes with the intended strategy of exerting international pressure on Israel to deter it from its invasion of Gaza.

Mr Nasrallah was mocking what he portrayed as the US inability to attract larger nations to join the maritime task force against the Houthis.

Some US allies have been reluctant to associate themselves with the coalition due to Washington's enduring support for Israel despite rising international criticism of the war. More than 22,438 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s assault on Gaza so far.

The US says 20 countries have signed up for the naval coalition, but announced the names of only 12. And although Britain, Greece and others have publicly embraced the coalition, several countries mentioned in the US announcement, such as Italy and Spain, were quick to distance themselves from it.

“The countries he [US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin] announced as part of the coalition came out and said: ‘Bro, we aren't part of this coalition, no one talked to us about it, and we have nothing to do with it’ – and then they withdrew,” Mr Nasrallah joked.

Hezbollah has since October been embroiled in a cross-border conflict with Israel in an attempt to force it to split its focus amid its invasion of Gaza, in support of its ally Hamas, which controls the blockaded strip.

The group is part of the so-called Axis of Resistance, a coalition of Iran-backed groups with interconnected political agendas.

Mr Nasrallah’s mispronunciation of the Seychelles quickly grew popular on social media and a petition was created, to “change the name of the island to make it easier to google -we recommend Senshel Menshel”.

The US-led task force has so far failed to deter Yemen’s Houthis from attacking commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Updated: January 05, 2024, 7:03 PM