Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 May 2019

Saudi Arabia welcomes British decision to outlaw Hezbollah

Kingdom says move is vital to combating terrorism

A supporter of Lebanon's Hezbollah gestures as he holds a Hezbollah flag in Marjayoun. Reuters 
A supporter of Lebanon's Hezbollah gestures as he holds a Hezbollah flag in Marjayoun. Reuters 

Saudi Arabia welcomed Britain’s decision to list Lebanese militant group Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, the Cabinet said on Tuesday.

During its weekly meeting, chaired by Saudi King Salman, the Cabinet said the move is “an important and constructive step in combatting terrorism around the world.”

"Britain's decision is in line with the choice that Saudi Arabia has taken towards the terrorist party, both politically and militarily," the Saudi Press Agency said in a statement.

Saudi officials urged the international community to take similar measures against the Iranian-backed group’s attempts to destabilise the region.

In 2016, the GCC – which Saudi is a member of – designated Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.

Announcing the decision, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said last month that “Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilise the fragile situation in the Middle East and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party."

The move was also hailed by the US – Washington designated the group as a foreign terror organisation in 1997.

The powerful militia’s political party described the British development as an "insult to the feelings, sympathies and will of the Lebanese people that consider Hezbollah a major political and popular force".

Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said the UK was “unqualified” to determine what a terrorist organisation was. Iran, meanwhile, condemned Britain's decision calling it irresponsible.

Officials in Theran said the move was “deliberately ignoring a large part of the Lebanese people and the legitimacy and the legal position of Hezbollah in Lebanon’s administrative and political structure”.

Tehran is a key supporter of Hezbollah, US intelligence sources last October said that Iran was supplying Hezbollah with Global Positioning System (GPS) components to make previously unguided rockets into precision guided-missiles.

Britain had already designated Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation and its military arm as terror entity in 2001 and 2008, but along with the European Union had refrained from blacklisting the terror group’s political wing.

Bahrain became the first Arab state to list the group as a terror organistaion in 2013, referring to evidence the group was attempting to incite terrorism from abroad.

Hezbollah was established in 1982 during Lebanon’s civil war and is now a major political party in the country, holding three cabinet posts.

Updated: March 6, 2019 04:30 PM

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