The Gulf Cooperation Council recently designated Lebanon-based, Iran-supported Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
The GCC is a regional coalition composed of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. Formally designating Hezbollah follows similar moves to designate Hezbollah and/or its military wing by a variety of countries and organizations in the past, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and the European Union.
GCC Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said the new designation was “due to hostile acts” carried out by Hezbollah militia fighters in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq that included “recruiting youths of the GCC countries to carry out terrorist acts, smuggling of arms and explosives, inciting sedition and provoking chaos and violence in a blatant violation of [the GCC states’] sovereignty, security and independence.”
At a press briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said the United States welcomes the designation by the GCC.
“And we’re going to continue to discuss with the GCC – all countries, frankly – on how law enforcement, sanctions and other tools can be used to crack down on Hezbollah’s ongoing terrorist operations and activities in the region.”
The United States designated Hezbollah a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997, and has condemned its numerous acts of and plans for terror around the world, including in places as far flung as Bulgaria, Thailand, and Cyprus, as well as in the Middle East against, among others, Israelis, Iraqis, and Syrians opposed to the brutal regime of Bashar al Assad. The U.S. has sanctioned Hezbollah military leaders, procurement facilitators, and businesses with close ties to the organization.
The GCC’s formal designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group is further evidence that, as Secretary of State John Kerry has noted, “a growing number of governments are recognizing Hezbollah as the dangerous and destabilizing terrorist organization that it is.”
The United States will continue to take steps to reign in Hezbollah’s terrorist and criminal activities and encourages all countries to do the same.