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Branding deserved


I read with interest in the GDN that Hizbollah had been branded a terrorist group. 

Any armed group holding a country hostage on behalf of a foreign state is a traitorous terrorist militia, not a resistance movement and certainly not a legitimate political party, as Hizbollah has always claimed. 

Its tentacles, stretching from Tehran, have rendered Lebanon a failed state posing a threat to the region.

Given diminishing hope that the honourable Lebanese would reclaim their country, GCC states officially declared Hizbollah a terrorist group – together with “its leaders, factions and affiliated organisations” – because of “hostile acts” in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, inciting sedition, smuggling weapons and recruiting terrorists.

Most Arab states supported the declaration, but unsurprisingly Syria and Iraq disapproved because they, like Lebanon, are under the Iranian boot. 

However, the Tunisian president’s rejection of the declaration, and Algeria’s disassociation from it, were mystifying. Riyadh has rightly said it will no longer engage in Arab solidarity because it does not exist.

The move follows the Saudi decision to freeze $4 billion in military and security aid to Lebanon, and GCC governments warning their nationals not to travel there for their own safety. Gulf states are also cracking down on known Hizbollah sympathisers and funders within their borders. These actions could not come soon enough.

Now that Hizbollah’s terrorist status is etched in stone, GCC leaderships should focus on its collaborators and appeasers within Lebanon’s political arena. 

For instance, Lebanese presidential hopeful Suleiman Franjieh has strongly denounced the terrorist blacklisting, tweeting: “Hizbollah as a resistance movement makes Lebanon and the Arabs proud.”

The Arabs he refers to share Iran’s ideology and have betrayed their roots by selling their souls to Persian mullahs. In this case, should Franjieh not be classed as a terrorist supporter? Should parliament speaker Nabih Berri, who heads the Amal Movement that is allied with Hizbollah, not be treated as a collaborator? 

Amal’s political bureau blasted the GCC announcement and emphasised Hizbollah’s ‘credentials’ as a resistance movement. 

However, the only thing it is currently resisting is the dislodging of the barbaric Syrian regime under direct orders from Tehran. Amal also deserves a place on the GCC’s terrorist listing.

If the Lebanese government does not back the GCC ruling and issue arrest warrants for Hizbollah’s commanders and funders, it should be classed as a terrorist abettor. I know that it is not within its power to make arrests, but at the very least its position would be clarified. 

Gulf leaders and their allies should consider governments and individuals standing against Hizbollah’s branding as partners within the same terrorist framework.

There is no room for playing both sides or holding a middle ground. The same demand should be made to the Lebanese army. 

Either it is against the terrorist organisation, in which case it should make a public announcement to that effect or it must declare its alliance with Hizbollah.

It is crunch time for Lebanon’s political and military decision-makers, who have reached a fork in the road. 

Are you with us or against us? Do you stand with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, or with Hizbollah and Iran?  

Those are questions the GCC should ask and demand answers to before reacting accordingly. Which path Lebanon takes will decide its destiny, not only for the foreseeable future but for generations to come.

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor 

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