The parliament of Bahrain approved a bill Tuesday declaring Lebanese-based Hezbollah a terrorist organization and called on the country’s Foreign Ministry to follow suit.
Legislators in Manama called on other Persian Gulf nations to also declare the Lebanese militia a terrorist group, according to Israel Radio.
Whereas Bahrain’s government and royal family are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims, the Bahraini population is majority Shi’ite, like Iran and its proxy Hezbollah.
A Sunni member of the Independent party in Bahrain’s 40-member lower house of parliament told CNN Arabic that the resolution was sectarian, “because Hezbollah is a Shi’ite party that represents the opposition against Israel and it represents all of the facets of opposition in Beirut.”
A former MP said the resolution came as a result of the 18-seat Shi’ite Wefaq party’s resignation from parliament last year, adding that the Bahraini government suspects Hezbollah of spurring political unrest that has wracked the country for the past two years, according to CNN Arabic.
The Wefaq party resigned from parliament following the deaths of two anti-government protesters in February 2012.
US and Israeli officials for months have been pressing the European Union to list Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Israel and Bulgaria accused Hezbollah of carrying out a terrorist attack against a busload of Israeli tourists at the Black Sea resort town of Burgas last summer, killing five Israelis and injuring dozens. US President Barack Obama repeated the call last week during an address to Israeli students during his visit last week.
“When I think about Israel’s security, I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to live and love and raise families,” Obama told a convention center in Jerusalem packed with cheering university students. “That’s why every country that values justice should call Hezbollah what it truly is: a terrorist organization.”
Hezbollah receives military training, financial support and weapons from Iran. According to the Middle East Forum, a conservative American think tank, the US estimates that Iran provides the Shi’ite terror organization with $60-100 million annually. Hezbollah is also a key ally to embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, and its fighters have joined in the Syrian civil war on Damascus’s behalf in the past two years.
The group has been accused of several major terror attacks in the past 20 years, including the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed 85 people.