The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) labeled the Iranian proxy group Hezbollah a terrorist organization on Wednesday. The move comes on the heels of Saudi Arabia’s decision to halt $4 billion in military aid to Lebanon due to its domination by Iran through Hezbollah, as well as Saudi government warnings to its citizens not to travel to Lebanon. Those decisions followed Lebanon’s refusal to join the Arab League in its condemnation of the attack on the Saudi embassy and a consulate in Iran in January, which prompted Saudi Arabia and its allies to sever or downgrade diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic.
In its statement, the GCC’s secretary general declared that its members “consider the actions of Hezbollah militias in GCC countries, and the terrorist actions and incitements it conducts throughout Syria, Yemen, and Iraq… a threat to Arab national security.” Hezbollah has played a crucial role in bolstering the Assad regime in Syria, assisting it in fighting opposition groups, many of which are backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Iran has reportedly provided weapons, money and training to the Houthi militia in Yemen, often channeling its support through Hezbollah operatives. The GCC frequently accuses Tehran of fomenting domestic unrest in its member countries. In January, both Bahrain and Kuwait uncovered Hezbollah and Iran-linked plots to carry out attacks in their respective countries. Iran and its proxies are also smuggling armor-piercing explosive devices to Shiite cells in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Israel, the US, and the EU already consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization. The group is responsible for killing more Americans than any terrorist group other than Al Qaeda. Israel and the GCC are both increasingly concerned about Iran’s expanding regional influence, and last June, Israel and Saudi Arabia acknowledged they have been engaged in secret, high-level talks aimed at thwarting Iran’s regional ambitions. At the Munich Security Conference last month, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon noted that any entity in the Middle East that is willing to help stabilize the region will find a partner in Israel, including countries that don’t have relations with the Jewish State, a reference to the Gulf states.
An open letter by a disgruntled ISIS fighter to the self-proclaimed caliphate’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, revealed extensive ties between the group’s affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula and the Palestinian terror organization Hamas.The letter, written by Abu Abdallah al-Muhajir, a jihadist from Gaza who now fights for ISIS in Syria, complained that ISIS-Sinai Province, the group’s Egyptian affiliate, was collaborating with Hamas through weapons smuggling, explosives manufacturing, communications and logistical assistance, and hospitalization for injured fighters. ISIS officials frequently visit Gaza and attend “lavish banquets” at the homes of Hamas leaders, al-Muhajir alleged. Al-Muhajir asked al-Baghdadi to stop this collaboration because Hamas was insufficiently pure.The letter was leaked to the group messaging app Telegram and discovered and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. A pro-ISIS media group responded with its own statement on Telegram, where they criticized al-Muhajir for airing the group’s dirty laundry, but never denied any of his specific claims.
Al-Muhajir listed five specific areas of cooperation in his letter:
1. Sinai province is smuggling weapons for Hamas in Gaza, because of the province’s fighters’ expert knowledge of the [smuggling] routes from Libya, Sudan, and Egypt.Al-Muhajir also wrote that “Hamas and Sinai province are maintaining warm relations and direct lines of communication around the clock.” Many Palestinians have crossed the border into Egypt to fight for Sinai Province, but when those fighters die in battles against the Egyptian army, ISIS claims that they have died fighting for other ISIS branches in Syria or Libya, so as not to embarrass the Palestinian terror group by creating more honorable martyrs. (via TheTower.org)
2. Sinai province depends very much on Hamas and Al-Qassam [Hamas’ militia] for weapons and for explosives and ammunition. There are direct and continuous supply routes from Hamas to Sinai province. The Al-Qassam factories operate assembly lines for manufacturing explosive devices and bombs for the Sinai province, but do not stamp the Al-Qassam logo on them, as they usually do.
3. Sinai province leaders are regularly visiting the Gaza Strip, and holding cordial meetings with Hamas and Al-Qassam leaders, even [Hamas] government [representatives]. Animals are slaughtered for them, feasts are held, and they are embraced in Gaza.
4. Hamas and Al-Qassam are accepting all wounded Sinai province [fighters], and they are treated in Gaza Strip hospitals under Al-Qassam’s direct protection.
5. Hamas is providing wireless communication hubs for Sinai province, because of the difficulty of operating them in Sinai and because they are vulnerable to swift destruction by the Egyptian army.