Arab League designate Hezbollah as terror group amid Iraqi and Lebanese rebuttal

Ahmed Abbas
4 Min Read
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Nasrallah addresses his supporters in a rare public appearance on the eve of Ashura in Beirut's southern suburbs on 13 November 2013. (Reuters Photo/Hasan Shaaban)

The Arab League designated Lebanese Hezbollah as a terror group on Friday, according to the Egyptian official news agency MENA.

Meanwhile, Lebanon and Iraq rejected the decision, according to the Bahraini deputy minister Mohammed bin Mubarak.

The Saudi ambassador to Egypt Ahmed Qattan told Al-Arabiya TV that the decision was approved by all Arab countries “except for Iraq and Lebanon, as usual”.

Iraq and Lebanon refused previously to vote on an Arab League decision to condemn the attacks on Saudi embassies in Iran.

According to Qattan, the decision also included a statement about the continuous Iranian intervention in Arab internal politics, especially in Bahrain.

“The objectives of Hezbollah have changed from fighting Israel to seizing Lebanon and occupying Beirut,” Qattan added.

Hezbollah is involved in the Syrian civil war as it supports regime troops, while Saudi Arabia is backing the Syrian opposition.

Sources inside Hezbollah told Daily News Egypt that the Lebanese party has not yet officially commented on the Arab League decision.

The party does not have any official relations or financial transactions in any Arab country subject to be banned, said the sources. They believe that this decision will not affect the party.

Political analyst Hasan Nafaa believes that the decision will change nothing in the Arab countries’ policy toward Hezbollah.

“The Arab League’s decisions are always symbolic, and no actions on the ground will result from this decision,” Nafaa told Daily News Egypt.

He added that this decision was taken “to pacify Saudi Arabia” which seems to have the effective influence inside the council.

“The decision will increase polarisation and conflict in the Middle East”, Nafaa continued.

Regarding Egypt’s stance, the political analyst believes Egypt was in conflict with the Lebanese party even before the Syrian crisis, but “the Arab League decision won’t affect its policy towards it or towards the Syrian crisis”.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) decided to designate Hezbollah as a “terror group” last week. GCC secretary-general Abdel Latif Al- Zayani said the decision was taken due to “the provocative acts of that militia to recruit young people from GCC to carry out terror acts”.

“GCC countries consider all acts of Hezbollah in the Gulf countries and the provocative acts they carry out in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen to be contradictory to international law and human values which threatens Arab national security,” the statement read.

The decision came a day after Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah’s outspoken declarations about “Saudi Arabia’s attempts to incite sectarian strife between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims in the Arab world”.

Last month, Saudi Arabia cut its $3bn military aid to the Lebanese army.

The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah is part of a broader conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which escalated due to the execution of prominent Shia cleric Nimr Al-Nimr last year. Nasrallah said Tuesday that the Saudi decision to cut aid will force Lebanon to enter a new phase in the conflict.

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Ahmed Abbas is a journalist at DNE’s politics section. He previously worked as Egypt based reporter for, and interned as a broadcast journalist at Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin. Abbas is a fellow of Salzburg Academy of Media and Global Change. He holds a Master’s Degree of Journalism and New Media from Jordan Media Institute. He was awarded by the ICFJ for best public service reporting in 2013, and by the German foreign office for best feature in 2014.
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