New Developments in Middle East
Posted on March 13th, 2016

By Afshain Afzal

 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) decided to include Hezbollah on the GCC’s list of terrorist organizations on 3 March 2016. This was followed by Foreign Ministers’ meeting of the Arab League at Cairo, which on 11 March 2016, formally declared Hezbollah group a terrorist organization. In addition, during the meeting, Saudi Arabia also took some punitive measures against Lebanon, including cutting $4 billion in aid to Lebanese security forces. The twenty two nations attended the meeting, which supported the resolution and there was a consensus on the decision with abstention from Lebanon and Iraq and a reservation from Algeria.

An important aspect of the meeting that cannot be overlooked is that the Arab League, while criticizing Israeli occupation on Palestine, welcomed a French initiative calling for a global conference for peace and called for effective global measures to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It is pertinent to mention here that European Parliament, on 17 December 2014, adopted a redrafted resolution referring to its strong support for the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the right of self-determination and full respect of international law. The very same day, the European Union Tribunal annulled, on procedural grounds, the European Council measures maintaining Hamas on the European list of terrorist organisations.

The United States of America has long declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization while the European Union only lists the military wing of Hezbollah on its terrorist blacklist. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran in February this year after Iranian protesters reacted over the execution of Shia religious leader, Nimr al-Nimr and set Saudi Embassy in Tehran on fire. Reciprocal, successful conclusion of a three-week counter-terrorism exercise, Northern Thunder” in Saudi Arabia, in which 20 countries participated, sent a strong message to enemies and adversaries. An important feature of the exercise was Pakistan Air Force’s JF-17 Thunder, which presented a spectacular aerial display in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

Reacting on the decision of Arab League, Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry Gibran Bassil said that labeling Hezbollah as a terrorist organization goes against the Arab treaty for combating terrorism, which distinguishes between terrorism and resistance. He added that Hezbollah is a Lebanese party that enjoys broad representation in the parliament and Cabinet so the word terrorist” be struck from the records of the meeting. Hadash and Balad parties issued separate statements criticizing decision by the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab League to include Hezbollah on list of terrorist organizations. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in a televised speech, criticized Saudi Arabia for its punitive measures against Lebanon. He also accused Saudi Arabia of seeking to cause strife between Sunnis and Shiites everywhere in the world. Iraqi official spokesman said that Hashd Shaabi and Hezbollah had preserved the dignity of the Arabs and those who call them terrorists are the terrorists.

In another development, Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani will visit Pakistan later this month. In a non-official resolve it was highlighted that both countries would solve various misunderstandings between the two countries. Iran intends to expand economic cooperation with Pakistan including Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline, along with increasing regional cooperation and carrying out joint efforts in the fight against extremism and terrorism. Pakistan and Iran intends to carry out joint efforts in the fight against extremism and terrorism. It is important to mention here that Gulf Arab and African states, Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia etc. are part of 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism.

The fact cannot be denied that Muslim unity should be the prime objective of the Muslim states but expansionist designs has encouraged only the centrifugal forces. It is an open secret that Western nations have installed unpopular weak leadership in different Muslim countries to widen Muslim divide on sectarian grounds. The uprising in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere are few on ground realities those cannot be denied. The Arab League decision has been taken after due consultations but fears of consequential weakening of Lebanon and its army cannot be ruled out. The Muslims nations should understand that their legitimate resistance movements should confine to their prime goals and militants should be barred for participating in political struggle in other countries like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.  [email protected]

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