A top leader of the Lebanese Shi’a militia Hezbollah criticized the Arab League after the body designated them as a terrorist organization, saying that the move was part of a Saudi “declaration of aggression.”
“Saudi Arabia is trying to affirm that Hezbollah is a terrorist group in all the forums that allow it to make this move. It is putting pressure on others at the Arab foreign ministers meeting to do the same,” Sheikh Naim Qassem, the deputy leader of the Iran-backed terror group, said in a speech Saturday. Qassem alleged that Saudi Arabia’s resentment of Hezbollah stems from the group’s supposed ability to defeat Israel, its commitment to Arab unity, and its support of Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, which, according to Hezbollah, are oppressed by Saudi Arabia. The speech was first reported in English by Lebanon’s Daily Star.
The terrorism designation was easily approved by the 21-country league, with only Iraq and Lebanon voting against it. The 6-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Saudi Arabia, also designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization earlier this month.
Bahrain, another member of the GCC, deported several Lebanese citizens last week after claiming that they supported Hezbollah, the BBC reported. Bahrain has accused Iran and Hezbollah of supporting Shi’a extremists opposed to its government. The country reported the capture of an Iran-backed terror cell in January, and expelled an Iranian diplomat last October for allegedly supporting terrorism and smuggling weapons.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened last month to attack an Israeli chemical plant, which he bragged would cause tens of thousands of deaths. A source close to Hezbollah vowed to a Foreign Policy reporter last week that in its next war with Israel, Hezbollah would “reach the Galilee.”
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