Six days after the European Union placed Hezbollah’s military wing on its list of terror organizations while leaving cooperation with the party’s political branch unaffected, a union of six Arab Gulf states has begun officially blacklisting all of Hezbollah.
The Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic umbrella organization encompassing Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, has begun implementing a decision adopted by its foreign ministers on June 2 to place financial and security restrictions on Hezbollah, “making no distinction whatsoever between its military and political arms,” the Saudi daily Al-Watan reported on Sunday.
“It is more extensive than the EU decision to include Hezbollah’s military wing in the terror list,” the article reported.
The Gulf measures against Hezbollah began in early July through the restriction of all financial transactions emanating from Hezbollah bank accounts in the Gulf. The main reason cited for singling out Hezbollah was its military support of Bashar Assad in Syria. The Arab League, based in Cairo, on June 5 strongly condemned Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria, but fell short of dubbing it a “terror organization.”
On July 6, the Saudi daily Okaz reported that the kingdom’s banks were prepared to cooperate “fully and transparently” with Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus in monitoring Hezbollah’s bank transactions, “after the party’s support for terrorist attacks has been proven.”
GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani told Okaz on July 23 that the interior ministries of the six Gulf states have agreed to restrict the residency permits and financial transactions of proven Hezbollah members.
“Hezbollah’s true goals transcend the borders of Lebanon and the Arab world. It continues to illegally operate against innocents, using its despicable militias,” Al-Zayani said.
The European Union declared that its decision would not prevent it from continuing its dialogue with all Lebanese parties, including Hezbollah.
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah ridiculed the European distinction between his party’s armed and political wings.
“This invention of a military wing, a political wing; this is a British act. They usually try to find such ways out,” Nasrallah said at dinner marking the end of a Ramadan fast day on July 24.
“Despite my disagreement with this division and distinction, I propose that our ministers in the next Lebanese government come from Hezbollah’s military wing,” Nasrallah joked.