RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Wednesday declared the Lebanon-based Shiite group Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al- Zayani said the decision was a result of hostile acts being carried out by Hezbollah elements, including the recruitment of young people from Gulf states to sow discord and carry out terrorist acts.
He said recruits were being trained “to smuggle weapons and explosives, to incite sedition, disorder and violence in a flagrant violation of their sovereignty, security and stability” in GCC states, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"The GCC states consider Hezbollah militias' practices in the Council's states and their terrorist and subversive acts being carried out in Syria, Yemen and Iraq contradict moral and humanitarian values and principles and the international law and pose a threat to Arab national security,” Al-Zayani said.
Gulf nations have taken a series of measures against Hezbollah since Saudi Arabia last month halted a $3 billion program funding French military supplies to Beirut.
Hezbollah is backed by Iran, which supports opposing sides to Riyadh in conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Announcing the military funding cut last month, a Saudi official said the kingdom had noticed “hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state.”
He specifically cited Lebanon’s refusal to join the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in condemning attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran in January.
Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran after Iranian fanatics burned the Saudi embassy and a consulate following the execution of a Shiite preacher Nimr Al-Nimr in the kingdom for terrorism.
Last week Saudi Arabia urged its nationals to leave Lebanon and avoid traveling there.
Qatar and Kuwait followed with similar travel advisories. But the United Arab Emirates went further, banning its nationals from travel to Lebanon and reducing diplomatic representation there.
Saudi Arabia last week extended sanctions on Hezbollah, freezing the assets and prohibiting dealings with three Lebanese nationals and four companies.
The GCC had already sanctioned Hezbollah in 2013, targeting residency permits and the movement’s financial and business activities in reprisal for its armed intervention in Syria.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday called on Saudi Arabia not to collectively punish Lebanon’s people just because Riyadh disagreed with his group’s policies.
In a televised address, Nasrallah said Saudi Arabia does not have “the right to sanction the Lebanese people because one particular party took a certain position.”
(Additional input from AFP)