Gulf states will consider punishing Hezbollah for role in Syria

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Arab Gulf States will consider taking measures against Hezbollah if the Shi’ite Muslim Lebanese movement continues its involvement in Syria’s civil war or interferes in Gulf Arab affairs, the head of their six-member bloc said on Sunday.

The Gulf Cooperation Council had “decided to look into taking measures against Hezbollah’s interests in the member states,” GCC chief Abdullatif al-Zayani told reporters at the end of a ministerial meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

Zayani gave no other details on the nature of the measures or the interests to which he was referring.

Bahrain Foreign Minister Ghanem al-Buainain said the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regarded Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria as “sectarian intervention,” but had not discussed listing the group as a terrorist organization, a step taken by Bahrain last week.

“It is a terrorist organization and this is how Gulf States see it,” he added.

However, placing Hezbollah on the GCC’s terror list was “a technical and legal matter that needs to be further studied.”

At the opening of the meeting, Buainain had called for “a serious stance and united action to end the attacks on the interests of the Syrian people and giving them the right to choose their political regime.”

“We see this today as a clear and flagrant Iranian interference, alongside its ally Hezbollah, in the Syrian crisis using all sorts of weapons and turning Syria into a battle zone that has left thousands of Syrians dead,” he said.

Bahrain, which currently holds the GCC’s rotating presidency, has branded the movement a “terrorist organization.”

Hezbollah’s men are fighting alongside Syrian government troops in a fierce battle to retake the Syrian town of Qusayr from mostly Sunni rebels.

The Gulf Cooperation Council is made up of six Sunni-ruled states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Hezbollah, like Shiite-dominated Iran, is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who hails from the Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Gulf States have repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in their affairs, a charge the Islamic republic categorically denies.

Violence in Syria has killed more than 94,000 people since a brutal crackdown transformed democracy protests that erupted in March 2011 into an armed conflict.

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