Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Hizbollah’s mendacious meddling

The GCC’s designation of the Iran-backed militia as a terrorist organisation was overdue
An image grab taken from Hezbollah's al-Manar TV shows Hassan Nasrallah giving a televised address from an undisclosed location in Lebanon. (AFP)
An image grab taken from Hezbollah's al-Manar TV shows Hassan Nasrallah giving a televised address from an undisclosed location in Lebanon. (AFP)

When considering Hizbollah’s part in propping up Bashar Al Assad’s regime, supporting the Houthi insurgency in Yemen and keeping the Lebanese government in paralysis at a time when the country desperately needs to be united, it is difficult to remember that the Tehran-backed Shiite militia once played a less malignant role in this region.

As the GCC acknowledged this week when it officially designated Hizbollah as a terrorist organisation, that time has long past. So too is the hope that the militia might use its capacities in a way that made the region safer, stronger and more secure. Instead, Hizbollah’s corrosive pursuit of Tehran’s agenda – including attempts to radicalise young Gulf nationals so they will commit terrorist attacks at home and abroad – has reached the point where it threatens the security of the GCC states and the wider region.

This designation brings the GCC into line with the position taken by the United States and other western countries, including Australia, Canada and the Netherlands. The European Union and the UK have only classified Hizbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation but not the political branch.

The GCC’s delay in the designation shows that the opportunity was provided for Hizbollah to once again be persuaded to pursue a beneficial agenda. At the end of the long and bloody civil war in Lebanon, the group had played a legitimate political role in the country’s reconciliation and recovery, while its military might was seen as an effective counterpoint to Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon.

That record stands in stark contrast to its present stance, where it is seeking to hold the country to ransom by thwarting the appointment of a new president in Lebanon. The political paralysis has rendered much of the government dysfunctional – as exemplified by the continuing rubbish crisis – at a time when the influx of Syrian refugees is putting the country under huge strain.

As is now obvious from Hizbollah’s increasingly mendacious meddling both at home and abroad, its trajectory is continuing in the opposite direction, at the behest of its paymasters in Tehran. The GCC’s preferred response to most challenges is almost always to attempt engagement and dialogue, but in this case it is more than justified in changing that approach.

Updated: March 3, 2016 04:00 AM

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