CAIRO: Arab League foreign ministers on Friday declared Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah a “terrorist” group, after Sunni-dominated Gulf monarchies adopted the same stance.
Nearly all members of the pan-Arab body supported the decision, but not Lebanon and Iraq which expressed “reservations”, the bloc said in a statement read out at a news conference by Bahraini diplomat Wahid Mubarak Sayar.
“The resolution of the League’s council (of foreign ministers) includes the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group,” the statement said.
The announcement comes after Gulf monarchies last week declared Hezbollah a “terrorist” group, escalating tensions with the movement which has lawmakers in Lebanon’s parliament and is backed by Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran.
Earlier in the day, the Saudi delegation briefly withdrew from discussions to protest against Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s refusal to label Hezbollah as terrorist.
In January, Bahrain said it had dismantled a “terror” cell allegedly linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.
That same month, a lower court in Kuwait sentenced 22 people, all but one of them Kuwaiti Shiites, who were charged with spying for Iran and plotting Hezbollah-linked attacks in the Gulf country.
The Revolutionary Guards created Hezbollah (Party of God) in the 1980s. Funded by Iran, it is the only side not to have put down weapons after Lebanon’s civil war from 1975 to 1990.
The United States, Canada and Australia have listed Hezbollah as a “terrorist” group. The European Union has also blacklisted its military wing.