July 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Arab League Sends Mixed Message Over Labeling Hezbollah a ‘Terrorist’ Organization

July 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Arab League Sends Mixed Message Over Labeling Hezbollah a ‘Terrorist’ Organization

Latest Developments

Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki  walked back his statement from June 28 implying that his organization no longer considers Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah to be a “terrorist” organization. Zaki initially said the label would no longer apply to Hezbollah following his meeting in Lebanon with Hezbollah’s parliamentary chief Mohammed Ra’ad. In a press statement issued on July 1, Zaki said that his apparent reversal had been taken out of context. “This does not mean in any way that the numerous reservations and objections to [Hezbollah’s] behavior, policies, actions and positions have disappeared, not only internally but also regionally,” he stated. Zaki and Ra’ad reportedly discussed the ongoing  conflict between Hezbollah and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with Zaki saying that “there should be no additional escalation.”

Expert Analysis

“We’ve seen the result of U.S. and Saudi initiatives to buy a false peace in Yemen by legitimizing and subsidizing the Houthis. Attempts to legitimize and subsidize Hezbollah in Lebanon will meet the same eventual fate: A larger threat with even more violence.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The Arab League’s mixed signals on Hezbollah’s terrorist status signals a retreat from the desire of the body — and its most influential member, Saudi Arabia — to confront Iran and its regional expansionism. Absent decisive American leadership, Arab states feel they have little choice but to come to an accommodation with Tehran.” David Daoud, FDD Senior Fellow

Change of Formula When Describing Hezbollah

According to the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper — which sides with Hamas and Hezbollah — the meeting was the first contact between the Arab League and the terrorist group in over 10 years. Zaki claimed during an interview with Egypt’s Al-Qahera network that the Arab League did not designate any organizations as “terrorist” groups but had used language in its written communications describing Hezbollah as such. In separate comments, Zaki called for the international community to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 — which calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah and the removal of its military assets from the border with Israel.

World Seeking to Avoid Escalation

The meeting between Hezbollah and the Arab League occurred as American, Arab, and European officials pushed for de-escalation of the conflict with Israel launched one day after Hamas’s October 7 atrocities. On June 30, an armed drone launched from Lebanon struck Israel’s Merom Golan area, wounding 18 IDF soldiers, one of them seriously.

War Between Israel and Hezbollah Drawing Closer, U.S. Says,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran-backed Iraqi militia threatens to strike US interests should Israel attack Lebanon,”  FDD Flash Brief

The grave consequences of the UN’s failure in Lebanon,” by Bradley Bowman and Cameron McMillan

Israel Rebuffs French Role in Lebanon,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Arab Politics Gulf States Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel Israel at War Lebanon