GCC declares Hezbollah a terrorist organization

Updated 03 March 2016
0

GCC declares Hezbollah a terrorist organization

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)


Top Iraq court orders manual vote recount after latest elections

Updated 1 min 49 sec ago
0

Top Iraq court orders manual vote recount after latest elections

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s supreme court on Thursday ordered a manual recount of May 12 legislative elections, a process expected to take weeks although parliament’s mandate runs out at the end of this month.
The recount due to suspicions of electoral fraud, however, would not significantly affect the overall outcome, according to experts on Iraqi politics.
The court ruled that parliament’s decision on June 6 to order a manual recount in response to allegations of irregularities did not violate the constitution, its president Medhat Al-Mahmud told a news conference.
All of the roughly 11 million ballots, including those of voters living abroad, displaced persons and security forces, must be recounted, he said, referring to the three categories whose results MPs had decided to annul because they were allegedly the most suspect.
Last month’s ballot was won by cleric populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s electoral alliance with communists, as long-time political figures were pushed out by voters seeking change in a country mired in conflict and corruption.
The result was contested mainly by the political old guard following allegations of fraud in the election, Iraq’s first since the defeat of the Daesh group.
According to intelligence services, tests of electronic voting machines used for the first time in Iraqi elections produced varied results, appearing to give credence to the fraud claims.
The vote saw a record number of abstentions as Iraqis snubbed the corruption-tainted elite that has dominated the country since the US-led invasion of 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein.
Many of Iraq’s longtime political figures seemingly irremovable since the dictator’s fall were pushed out of their seats by new faces.
The supreme court, whose rulings are final, also ratified parliament’s decision to dismiss Iraq’s nine-member electoral commission and have them replaced by judges.
The recount is unlikely to produce a major change in the number of seats won by rival lists, according to experts, but rather modify the rankings of candidates within the same lists.
“The major blocs could win or lose three seats,” said judicial expert Haidar Al-Soufi.
Tarek Al-Marmori, another expert, said that even if a manual recount takes weeks, “there will be a legislative but no constitutional vacuum” because Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s government would stay on in a caretaker capacity.

When Sadr’s bloc scooped the most seats in May’s election it was seen as a blow for Tehran, long the dominant foreign player in conflict-hit Iraq.
The Shiite firebrand had railed against both the influence of Iran and the United States, even drawing closer to Tehran’s arch-foe Saudi Arabia.
But on June 13, he announced an alliance with pro-Iranian Hadi Al-Ameri, head of a rival list made up of former members of the mainly Shiite paramilitary units which helped the Iraqi armed forces defeat Daesh militants.
It is in the multi-ethnic, oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk that the challenge to the election results has been the strongest, and the most potentially explosive.
Kirkuk’s population made out of Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen pushed Iraqi authorities to impose a curfew on the night of the results.