Lebanon-based Hezbollah is paying an increasingly high price for its loyalty to Iran; on Friday, the Arab League joined other world leaders in a formal vote declaring the Iranian proxy a terrorist entity.
“We decided to label Hezbollah a terrorist group in accordance with a project submitted by the United Arab Emirates regarding Iranian interference in the Arab region,” Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmad Bin Hali said in a statement. Only Lebanon and Iraq abstained in the vote.
The tiny island kingdom of Bahrain, a member of the GCC and the Arab League, was the first Arab nation to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity in March 2013.
The vote followed a similar move by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) earlier this month, prompted by Bahrain. The six-member Council was led by Saudi Arabia in blacklisting Hezbollah on March 2. Among the offenses listed by the GCC were attempts to recruit new terrorists and smuggling weapons and explosives. In particular, Hezbollah’s support for the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen is of great concern to the Saudis and its Gulf partners.
The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman had all joined Saudi Arabia in pulling their staff members from embassies in Beirut. They also issued warnings against travel to Lebanon.
Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel. However, the EU and UK make a distinction between the group’s military and “political” wings.
Shortly after the GCC’s decision to label the Lebanese organization a terrorist group, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah slammed the Gulf Arab countries’ decision.
He accused the GCC of indifference or outright collaboration with the Israeli state, according to a report in the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.
“The Lebanese resistance is the only one that regains Arab dignity and fights for the Palestinian people,” Nasrallah said.
“Arab regimes led by Saudi Arabia side with Israel against our struggle. They do so because the defense of Israel is the guarantee to their survival.”