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Arab League declares Hezbollah a 'terrorist' organisation

Decision comes after GCC sanctioned Shia group and Saudi Arabia pulled billions in military funding for Lebanese state
Hezbollah was accused of 'terrorist and subversive acts' by the GCC (AFP)

Arab League foreign ministers have declared Lebanon's Shia 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 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 came days after the GCC also declared the group a "terrorist" organisation, following Saudi Arabia's decision to withhold $4bn of military support for Lebanon's government.

Announcing the funding cut, a Saudi official said at the time that the kingdom noticed "hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state".

After that announcement, Saudi Arabia urged its nationals to leave Lebanon and avoid travelling there. Qatar and Kuwait later issued similar advisories. The United Arab Emirates banned its citizens from travelling to Lebanon.

At that time, the GCC's secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani said Hezbollah was responsible for "terrorist and subversive acts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, which contradict moral and humanitarian values and principles and the international law and pose a threat to Arab national security".

Gulf states maintain that Hezbollah-linked groups are a threat within their own borders.

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 Shia, who were charged with spying for Iran and plotting Hezbollah-linked attacks in the Gulf country.

Iran's 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.