On March 11, the Arab League announced that Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based Shiite group, is a terrorist organization. This announcement came a day after the Arab League, which is based in Cairo, elected Ahmed Aboul Gheit, a former aid to overthrown Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, as its new leader.
The 22-member bloc said in a statement that was read out at a news conference by Bahraini diplomat Wahid Mubarak Sayar that almost all of its members were in favor of this decision, aside from Lebanon and Iraq, who had “reservations.”
This announcement comes a little over a week after the Gulf states, which are largely Sunni, took a similar position.
Hezbollah’s blacklisting at the hands of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council came during a time when the relationship between Hezbollah’s Shiite backer Iran and major Sunni power Saudi Arabia is constantly deteriorating. The Gulf kingdoms have sanctioned Hezbollah before, as back in 2013, Hezbollah was sanctioned in response for Hezbollah’s armed intervention in Syria to support of embattled President Bashar Assad.
The March 2 decision by the Gulf kingdoms drew the ire of Arab MKs in Israel, who were then criticized for their position by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Countries from the Arab world decided to recognize Hezbollah as a terror group. This is an important development. Even amazing,” Netanyahu told the Knesset last week.
“But what’s no less amazing is that two parties here in the Knesset condemned the decision. Will you continue to condemn them when Hezbollah shoots missiles at your villages? Have you gone mad?” Netanyahu said, adding immediately: “Excuse the expression.”
Hezbollah has openly stated that it would like to destroy Israel and has approximately 100,000 plus rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.
Back in February, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to bomb a Haifa ammonia storage facility and claimed that the impact of a missile strike there would be similar to the impact of a nuclear attack.