July 2, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Arab League denies softening stance on Hezbollah terror label

The Arab League clarifies it hasn't softened its stance on Hezbollah, stating previous comments were taken out of context amid rising regional tensions with Israel.
July 2, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Arab League denies softening stance on Hezbollah terror label

The Arab League clarifies it hasn't softened its stance on Hezbollah, stating previous comments were taken out of context amid rising regional tensions with Israel.

The Arab League appears to have walked back statements over the weekend that indicated it had softened its stance on Hezbollah. Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki said statements he made were taken out of context, UAE-based Al Ain news site reported.

The Arab League had shifted its stance on Hezbollah and no longer considers it a terrorist group, according to reports.

In 2016, the Arab League said Hezbollah was a terrorist group. The region is changing, however, and the Arab League has welcomed Syria back after years of Syrian civil war and giving it the cold shoulder. The Syrian regime is supported by Hezbollah and Iran.

Nevertheless, the Arab League’s comments about Hezbollah come at a sensitive time for the region because of Israel-Hezbollah tensions. Iran is threatening Israel not to launch a military operation in Lebanon. The Arab League appears to also want to reduce tensions. It is seeking a political solution in Lebanon through electing a new president.

After Zaki had traveled to Lebanon and met with representatives of political parties, including Hezbollah, it was reported that the Arab League had shifted its stance on Hezbollah. Zaki says his views were taken out of context.

The previous statements do not mean “in any way the disappearance of the many reservations and objections to Hezbollah’s behavior, policies, actions and positions, not only internally but also regionally,” the Arab League said in a statement.

The Arab League and Hezbollah

Zaki clarified that the “relevant decisions of the Arab League, most notably the decision on maintaining Arab national security and combating terrorism, which stipulates in one of its paragraphs refraining from providing any form of explicit or implicit support to entities or individuals involved in terrorist acts, including any militias or irregular armed groups, is a decision unanimously adopted by member states.”

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the General Secretariat “is always committed to the full implementation of the decisions of the countries on all issues.”

This generalized statement included a reference to the Arab League’s “solidarity with Lebanon.”

The point the Arab League is trying to emphasize is that it is focused on the political issues within Lebanon and also concerns over a possible wider war with Israel.

The Arab League does not want to be dragged into controversy regarding Hezbollah. This is why it has tried to walk back reports that it had softened its stance on Hezbollah. 

Seth Frantzman is the author of Drone Wars: Pioneers, Killing Machine, Artificial Intelligence and the Battle for the Future (Bombardier 2021) and an adjunct fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Issues:

Arab Politics Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network