Wednesday, March 02, 2016

02-Mar-16: Saudi and Gulf states announce they now view Hezbollah as terrorists

The Gulf Cooperation Council members [Source]
Saudi Arabia, along with several of the Gulf oil states, today announced [via AP] that they are formally declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
A statement from the Gulf Cooperation Council said Wednesday that it was taking the step because of hostile acts by the militant group within its member states. The group accused Hezbollah of charges including seeking to recruit members within the GCC and smuggling of weapons and explosives...
(The Gulf Cooperation Council members are the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.)

Should that be news? Yes, bearing in mind the background. Wikipedia, whose entry on Hezbollah is likely to change in the next 24 hours, currently says
Hezbollah's status as a legitimate political party, a terrorist group, a resistance movement, or some combination thereof is a contentious issue. There is a "wide difference" between American and Arab perception of Hezbollah. Since Hezbollah is a non-state actor that uses violence as a means of resistance to Israel, it is often associated with "terrorism" in West: several Western countries officially classify Hezbollah or its external security wing as a terrorist organization, and some of their violent acts have been described as terrorist attacks. However, throughout most of the Arab and Muslim worlds, Hezbollah is referred to as a resistance movement, engaged in national defense.
That entry lists these countries and organizations as having listed Hezbollah "in at least some part" as a terrorist organization. Australia, Bahrain, Gulf Cooperation Council, Canada, France, European Union ("Hezbollah's military wing"), Israel, Netherlands", New Zealand, United Kingdom ("Hezbollah's military wing"), and the United States.

In reporting this terrorism-related development, Gulf Today says today
Gulf nations have taken a series of measures against Hizbollah since Saudi Arabia last month halted a $3 billion programme funding French military supplies to Beirut.
Some additional small insight into the evolving view taken by the Saudis comes in an article by an influential columnist: "A company called Hezbollah", written by Abdulrahman al-Rashed, a former General Manager of Al Arabiya News. A brief extract:
How much is Nasrallah, who heads Hezbollah, bothered? 
To understand why Hezbollah has expanded beyond Lebanon into Syria and Yemen, we have to look at it as a limited-liability company that provides services to its owner, the Iranian regime... Iran has desires that it wants to impose on the West and Israel, such as allowing its nuclear program and extending its influence in the Arab Gulf countries and Iraq. This is what Tehran has achieved in part due to Hezbollah and other forces such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad... As a result of the Iran nuclear deal, Hezbollah’s main function - facing Israel - may expire. This is why the party is trying to reinvent itself as a company that offers other services."
Reuters noted just yesterday that
Relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia have been plunged into crisis since Riyadh halted $3 billion in aid to the Lebanese army - a response to the Beirut government's failure to condemn attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.
We have more to say, but meanwhile urge readers to see "Iran funding Palestinian terrorism", published yesterday, and authored by Dr Ely Karmon of Israel's International Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

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