Hezbollah is not a terrorist group, says the Arab League

In a surprise move (but only for those unfamiliar with the Arab world), which will only add to existing tensions, the Arab League has revoked the classification of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. This move, announced on Saturday, marks a notable shift in the Arab world’s stance towards the Lebanon-based Shiite group.

Hossam Zaki, Deputy Secretary General of the Arab League, has declared to the Egyptian channel Al-Qahera News: “In previous decisions of the Arab League, Hezbollah was designated as a terrorist organization, and this designation was reflected in the resolutions, leading to the disruption of communications. Based on these decisions, Hezbollah was classified as a terrorist group in March 2016. Today, the member states of the League agree that the labeling of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization should no longer be used.” Then Hossam Zaki further clarified the position of the Arab League: “The League does not maintain terrorist lists and does not actively seek to designate entities in this way.”

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar He quoted sources as saying that Zaki “has already informed Hezbollah that the League has decided to revoke its terrorist classification and believes it has an important role in Lebanon’s future.” This unfortunate decision comes at a time of very high tensions in the region and an ongoing war in Gaza. Hezbollah, known for its large arsenal of rockets and its ties to Iran, has been actively engaged in cross-border attacks into northern Israel since October 8. These attacks followed a day after Israel suffered what it describes as the worst anti-Semitic massacre since the Holocaust, perpetrated by Hamas. Hezbollah boasts the world’s largest arsenal of rockets of any non-state actor, remains committed to what it calls the destruction of Israel, and adheres to jihadist ideology. Iran-backed Hezbollah has attacked Israel almost daily since October 8, 2023, launching thousands of rockets, anti-tank missiles and suicide drones at Israeli cities, killing more than 20 people and causing extensive damage. Around 100,000 Israeli citizens have been displaced by the ongoing violence.

During meetings in Washington last week, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reiterated that, although Israel prefers a diplomatic solution, it will take all necessary measures to restore security in the north of the country: « We do not want war, but we are preparing for every scenario.” Israel stressed that any political solution “will not just be an agreement on paper, but will have to include the physical removal of Hezbollah from the border, and we will ensure that this is respected.” In a video released last week, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed to fight the Jewish state “without restrictions, without rules, without limits” if war was imposed” on Lebanon. He also threatened that “the invasion of the Galilee Israeli remains on the table.” Now the Arab League’s decision will only fuel the conflict.