Arab League declares Hizballah terrorist organisation

Arab League declares Hizballah terrorist organisation
Arab foreign ministers at Arab League meeting in Cairo declare Hizballah a 'terrorist' organisation, with Iraq and Lebanon expressing their reservations at the decision.
3 min read
11 March, 2016
The move imitates a recent GCC decision to brandish Hizballah a 'terrorist' group [Getty]
Hizballah, the Lebanese Shia movement, has been declared a "terrorist organisation" by the Arab league, less than 24 hours after Mubarak-era Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abdul Gheit was appointed to lead the Cairo-based organisation.

Tensions between Arab leaders was apparent when the Saudi delegation reportedly walked out during a speech by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who praised the Popular Mobilisation Forces in Iraq - along with Hizballah.

But the stern stance follows a series of measures against Hizballah since Saudi Arabia last month halted a $3 billion programme funding French military supplies to Beirut.

Last week, the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council "decided to consider the militias (of Hizballah) a terrorist organisation", GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani said in a statement.

The GCC targeted Hizballah due the "hostile actions of the militia who recruit the young people (of the Gulf)," he said.

Zayani cited "their terrorist acts and incitement in Syria, Yemen and in Iraq", which he said were threatening Arab security.

In recent weeks, an anti-Hizballah movement led by Saudi Arabia saw GCC nations banning their respective nationals from travelling to Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia also extended sanctions on Hizballah, freezing the assets and prohibiting dealings with three Lebanese nationals and four companies.

Gulf monarchies had already sanctioned Hizballah in 2013, targeting residency permits and the movement's financial and business activities in reprisal for its armed intervention in Syria.

Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah responded to the developments accusing the Arab countries of seeking to protect Israel from the "resistance".

Nasrallah urged Saudi Arabia not to collectively punish Lebanon's people just because Riyadh disagreed with his group's policies.

In a televised speech, he asked why GCC states have not armed the Palestinians to fight Israeli occupation if it considers Hizballah a "terrorist group" unworthy of their support.

"We do not want anything from you, we just want you to leave this resistance alone. It is the last remaining hope for the region's people," he added, directing his remarks to the GCC states.

Nasrallah thanked the Arab governments and parties that refused his group's designation as a terrorist organisation.

Hizballah is backed by Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, which supports opposing sides to Riyadh in conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Announcing the military funding cut last month, a Saudi official said the kingdom had noticed "hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hizballah on the state".

He specifically cited Lebanon's refusal to join the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in condemning attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran in January.

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