Bahrain parliament names Hezbollah a terror group

Lebanese media reports that Bahrain's lawmakers approved the measure to blacklist the Shiite organization.

Hezbollah Beirut 370 (photo credit: Archive)
Hezbollah Beirut 370
(photo credit: Archive)
Bahraini lawmakers voted on Tuesday to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization, the Lebanese news outlet Now Lebanon reported.
The parliament in Manama voted unanimously to pass the bill, which had been presented by 30 MPs. It now moves to the Bahraini cabinet for a vote.
“It is time we join the world in outlawing this group, which has terrorized the region enough and has been instrumental in spreading evil among us,” said lawmaker Shaikh Jassim Al Saeedi, who has been one of those at the forefront of the legislation, Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News website said on Wednesday.
The Bahraini daily Akhbar Al Khaleej stated that the bill cites Hezbollah as having sought to destabilize Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, and accuses it of murdering innocent civilians in Syria in order to support the regime of the beleaguered Bashar Assad.
The GCC, created in 1981, is a political and economic alliance made up of six Gulf Arab states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Tensions have been high since Bahrain accused Hezbollah of seeking to overthrow its government in 2011. According to a report sent to UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon in 2011, the ruling Sunni Khalifa family asserted that Hezbollah trained insurgents in Lebanon and Iran to topple its government.
Hezbollah is a Shi’ite organization with extremely close ties to the Islamic Republic’s Shi’ite clerical leadership.
Counter-terrorism experts say Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps cooperate in terror attacks against Western and Israeli targets.
Bahrain and other Sunni Gulf states believe that Tehran is trying to foment unrest as part of what some analysts describe as a Sunni-Shi’ite “cold war” in the region. Some of these states, notably Saudi Arabia, have been criticized by the West, Iran and humanitarian groups for their crackdowns on Shi’ite protests.
Bahrain’s move to designate Hezbollah a terror group comes on the heels of talks in the EU about banning it over terror operations. Last week, a criminal court in Cyprus convicted a Hezbollah member for plotting to kill Israeli tourists on the small Mediterranean island. In addition, Bulgaria’s interior minister issued a report last month asserting that two Hezbollah operatives had participated in the July 2012 terror attack that killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver in the Black Sea resort of Burgas.
Germany and France have resisted including Hezbollah on the EU terror list, citing insufficient legal evidence.
“Our position is that we’ve always said that if we have proof that holds up in court, we can enter the procedure,” Karl-Matthias Klause, spokesman for the German Embassy in Washington, was reported by JTA as having said on Friday. “There is a general readiness into looking into forbidding the military wing of Hezbollah.”
It is unclear whether the legal verdict in Cyprus will influence a change in the German and French positions.
The Netherlands is the only EU country to have designated all of Hezbollah a terrorist group, while the UK uses this definition only for its military wing.
Proponents of a ban on Hezbollah argue that it would freeze the group’s ability to raise funds, procure weapons and carry out attacks in Europe.
Germany has a large contingent of Hezbollah operatives.
According to the country’s domestic intelligence agency, 950 operate legally there.