The Gulf Cooperation Council bests the EU, declaring that all of Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, labeled Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. This announcement surpasses the recent EU decision to label only Hezbollah’s military as terrorists but not its political and social wing. The GCC announcement follows Bahrain’s achievement as the first Arab country to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization, accompanied by GCC sanctions announced against Hezbollah residents living in GCC countries in June 2013.
“All GCC countries are convinced that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Ghanim bin Fadl Al-Buainain stated. “There is no difference of opinion among the GCC countries on considering Hezbollah a terrorist organization, especially after its involvement in the Syrian conflict.” Reports indicate that thousands Hezbollah terrorists have been heavily involved in fighting rebel forces in Syria, while committing massive human rights abuses against Syrian civilians. Furthermore, Hezbollah played a prominent role in conquering Syrian city Qusayr from rebel forces, a move heavily criticized by Gulf States.
While the Syrian conflict played the most prominent role in the GCC decision, the GCC also condemned Hezbollah terrorism “in all its forms, and underlined the importance of international counter-terrorism cooperation.” The GCC in the past has expressed concern about Iranian-backed spy rings operating within GCC countries. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain have all broken Iranian spy rings within their countries while Bahrain has accused Hezbollah cells of trying to carry out terror attacks backed by Iran within their country, prompting Bahrain to bar their citizens from all interaction with Hezbollah.
An unnamed source quoted in the Saudi publication Al Watan claimed that the GCC views Hezbollah as a monolithic organization and “does not differentiate between Hezbollah’s military and political wings,” implying that subsequent GCC sanctions will be more robust than those of the European Union. According to Al-Watan, lines of diplomatic communication took place “between the GCC and some European and international countries in a bid to clamp down on Hezbollah and its members.” In addition to the GCC, Israel, the United States, the Netherlands, and Canada view Hezbollah in a similar light.
Observers say any GCC action against Hezbollah is likely to impact the organization greatly since 600,000 Lebanese nationals live in GCC countries and the oil-rich Arab states who are members of the GCC wield immense power in the Middle East. Measures against Hezbollah have begun with the restriction of all financial transactions originating from Hezbollah bank accounts in Gulf States. And GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani told Syrian daily Okaz that the six Gulf states have also agreed to tighten residency permits and financial transactions of proven Hezbollah members.
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel