Arab Gulf countries plan tougher anti-Hezbollah sanctions than EU

Monarchies reject Hezbollah military, political division; GCC states “studying” methods for cracking down on Hezbollah.

July 28, 2013 19:40
3 minute read.
Hezbollah supporters march in Beirut’s suburbs

Hezbollah Beirut 370. (photo credit: Archive)


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BERLIN – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – comprising of six Arab countries – plans to impose robust sanctions against Hezbollah that will surpass the potency of last week’s EU measure labeling the military wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist entity, according to media reports on Sunday.

Saudi Arabian paper Al-Watan, which cited an unnamed source, wrote that the GCC views Hezbollah as a monolithic organization and “does not differentiate between Hezbollah’s military and political wings.”

In light of the council’s decision not to separate Hezbollah into distinct parts, the source said the GCC’s sanctions are slated to be “more comprehensive than the EU’s decision.”

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.”

The six GCC members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They are already “studying” counterterrorism methods for cracking down on Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia has deported supporters of Hezbollah from its territory, while Bahrain declared the organization to be a terrorist entity in April, making it the first Arab country to outlaw the Lebanese-based group.

The US, Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands consider Hezbollah’s entire apparatus to be a terror organization.

The 28-member countries of the European Union placed the group’s military wing on the EU terror list last week.

The July 2012 terror attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, that resulted in the killing of five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver and is largely considered to be Hezbollah’s handiwork fueled the decision by some EU countries to blacklist Hezbollah. France, however, pushed for an EU terror listing of Hezbollah because its combatants are fighting to preserve Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.

Writing on his The Spectator blog, Douglas Murray, the associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, a London- based think tank, said in reference to the partial EU ban, “Yet there is a cloud on the silver lining – which is that the EU, in somewhat characteristic fashion, has only managed to do a partly good thing. While they have banned the ‘military wing’ of Hezbollah, they continue to allow the ‘political’ wing to fundraise and recruit in Europe. In this way, they perpetuate the idiotic fiction of a separation of powers within Hezbollah.

“That is, they continue to pretend – like the British Foreign Office – that Hezbollah is not a unified political-military organization under the leadership of Hassan Nasrallah and his paymasters in Iran, but rather an organization with two wholly separate entities – a ‘political’ wing and a ‘military’ wing,” he continued.

Hezbollah’s top leaders and MPs in the Lebanese parliament have blasted the European decision over the last week. The Lebanese Shi’ite group has consistently rejected the EU’s decision to separate its organization into political and military wings and considers its operation to be a unified entity.

The Beirut-based The Daily Star reported on Sunday that Muhammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, said the “decision of the European Union is a terrorist message and not a political one; they want to terrorize our people and instill fear in their hearts.”

“The [decision] is not only an insult to the resistance and its people,” he continued. “It reflects the despair of the Europeans over all their attempts to put down the resistance and tame it.”

The Star quoted Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Musawi as saying that the EU decision was an “attack against the resistance, the people and the homeland.

The decision reflects a colonial policy [by the EU] toward Lebanon and it comes in response to the Israeli- American dictates to the EU.”

Israel welcomed the designation of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group but urged the EU to move to a full designation. In contrast to Hezbollah, the EU classifies Hamas as a terrorist organization, and does not distinguish between any of the Gazan group’s departments.

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