The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council declared Lebanon’s Hezbollah a “terrorist” organization, it said on Wednesday, amplifying pressure on the Iran-allied group that exerts influence in Lebanon and plays a key role in the Syrian crisis fighting in support of Assad’s regime.
Gulf monarchies took the action against Hezbollah members because of “hostile actions of the militia who recruit the young people (of the Gulf) for terrorist acts,” GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani said in a statement issued in Riyadh.
Gulf Arab states imposed sanctions on Hezbollah members in 2013 in retaliation for the group’s intervention in Syria’s civil war in support of President Bashar al-Assad. And individual GCC countries – including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – have label++ed the group terrorists.
But al-Zayani said that the GCC had now taken a collective decision on the group.
“As the militia continues its terrorist practices, the GCC states have decided to label it a terrorist organization and will take the necessary measures to implement its decision in this regard based on anti-terrorism laws applied in the GCC and similar international laws,” the statement quoted Zayani as saying.
The decision came one day after a speech by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accusing Saudi Arabia of pushing Lebanon into a new phase of political conflict by announcing it was suspending an aid package to the Lebanese army and Security Forces.
For his part, Zayani accused Hezbollah of committing hostile acts against GCC states, including recruiting young men to carry out “terrorist attacks, smuggling weapons and explosives, stirring up sedition and incitement to chaos and violence”.
Announcing the military funding cut last month, a Saudi official said the kingdom had noticed “hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state”.
Riyadh would be conducting “a comprehensive review of its relations with the Lebanese republic”, the unnamed official said.
He particularly alluded to Lebanon’s refusal to join the Arab League and the Organization 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 Shiite cleric. A number of Arab states took similar actions to condemn the attack.
The GCC comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.