March 3, 2016 / 2:42 PM / 2 years ago

Lebanon's Hezbollah condemns Gulf states for 'terrorist' label

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s armed Shi‘ite Hezbollah movement on Thursday said a decision by Gulf States to designate it a terrorist organization was “reckless and hostile”.

Members of Lebanon's Hezbollah wave Hezbollah and Lebanese flags during a rally marking the ninth anniversary of the end of Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel, in Wadi al-Hujeir, southern Lebanon August 14, 2015. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) took the step on Wednesday, opening up the possibility of further sanctions against Hezbollah, which wields broad political influence in Lebanon and is fighting in Syria for President Bashar al-Assad.

The group’s bloc in parliament said it held Saudi Arabia responsible for the GCC decision.

“The decision by the GCC is reckless and hostile and is condemned. The Saudi regime bears responsibility for its issuing and for the consequences,” the bloc said after its weekly meeting.

The region’s main Shi‘ite power, Iran, had already accused Gulf Arab states of jeopardizing Lebanon’s stability by blacklisting Hezbollah, which Iran supports.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia is competing with Iran for influence across the region, and both sides back different factions in Lebanon and in wars in Syria and Yemen.

Relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia have plunged into crisis since Riyadh froze $3 billion in aid to the Lebanese army in response to the Beirut government’s failure to condemn attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.

Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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