Dubai: Today, a Saudi-led bloc of six Gulf Arab nations formally branded Hezbollah a terrorist organization, ramping up the pressure on the Lebanese militant group fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad in Syria. The move by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) comes less than two weeks after Saudi Arabia announced it was cutting $4 billion in aid to Lebanese security forces.
The kingdom and other Gulf states followed up that move by urging its citizens to leave Lebanon, dealing a blow to the tiny nation’s tourism industry. A statement from GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani said the bloc decided to implement the terrorist designation because of hostile acts by Hezbollah within its member states. It said the designation applies to the militant group as well as all its leaders, factions and affiliates. Al-Zayani accused Hezbollah of charges including seeking to recruit members within the GCC to carry out terrorist acts, smuggling weapons and explosives, and incitement to sow disorder and violence.
Those activities within GCC member states and in Syria, Yemen and Iraq “are incompatible with the values ??and moral and humanitarian principles and international law, and pose a threat to Arab national security,” he said. The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Lebanon’s main political divide pits a Sunni-led coalition against another led by the Shiite Hezbollah movement, which includes both political and military wings. The Mediterranean country has weathered a string of militant attacks in recent years linked to the war in neighboring Syria. The GCC’s designation brings it in line with the United States, which is closely allied with the Gulf states and has long considered Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization. The European Union only lists the military wing of Hezbollah on its terrorist blacklist.