Days after Gulf nations deem Iran-backed group as terrorist organization, Arab League follows suit, with only Iraq and Lebanon expressing ‘reservations’.
By Roi Kais and AFP
Arab League foreign ministers on Friday declared Lebanon’s Shi’ite 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 announcement was made at a Cairo summit that raised a number of divisions between member states. On one side of the division is the Sunni axis led by Saudi Arabia, and on the other the Shi’ite-Alawite axis led by Iran, which funds Assad’s regime in Syria as well as Hezbollah.
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The decision caused much controversy among member states. The Saudi delegation stormed out of the meeting after Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari defended Hezbollah and the group’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah.
The ambassador referred to Nasrallah as “an Arab hero who defends values and principles,” adding that Hezbollah and Shi’ite militias in Iraq are a source of pride and respect among Arabs.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, born a Maronite Christian and known to be linked to Hezbollah, said that Lebanon is opposed to defining Hezbollah as a terrorist organization because it is contrary to the Arab Convention on the Suppression of terrorism, “in which Hezbollah is a central Lebanese component.”
Lebanon and Saudi Arabia abstained from the vote.
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