Arab League Drops Hezbollah Terror Designation

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

More From Me

The Arab League has officially retracted its designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The announcement came on Saturday, June 29th, after a meeting between the Arab League’s Assistant Secretary-General and the President of the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, Hezbollah’s political party.

Indicators of a Changing Policy

The Arab League’s announcement was made by Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki on Egyptian News Channel Al-Qahera News in a televised statement. Zaki offered some clarity into the situation, in particular why the Arab League had taken this decision.

“In previous Arab League decisions, Hezbollah was designated as a terrorist organization, and this designation was reflected in the resolutions, leading to the severing of communication based on these decisions. The member states of the League agreed that the label of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization should no longer be employed.” -Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki

Zaki stated the Arab League arrived at the decision that “the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization no longer applies” because “the Arab League does not maintain terrorist lists and does not actively seek to designate entities in such a manner.”

While Zaki’s statements do not imply that the decision is inherently a change in the Arab League’s policy towards Hezbollah, it certainly opens up the possibility for such change. Further, it is notable that Zaki’s announcement came after meeting directly with the President of Hezbollah’s political party, Muhammad Raad.

The two met in Beirut, Lebanon, on Friday, one day before Zaki’s announcement on Saturday. The meeting took place during Zaki’s wider visit to Lebanon, where he met with political leaders from several different Lebanese political parties.

Zaki had been in Lebanon in order to discuss de-escalation on Lebanon’s southern border and Lebanon’s continuing political crisis.

Lebanon has gone almost two years without a president. Former President Michel Aoun’s six-year presidential term ended on October 30, 2022. In Lebanon, the president must be a Maronite Christian and is elected by the Lebanese Parliament.

After President Aoun’s term ended, the Lebanese parliament failed to agree upon a new candidate, despite a dozen rounds of voting on the matter. Prime Minister Najib Mikati is serving as the nation’s acting President, and has established a caretaker government with limited powers in order to lead the nation while it endures this political crisis.

History and Modernity

The meeting between Zaki and Raad was the first official contact between the Arab League and Hezbollah in over 10 years.

The Arab League first designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization on March 11, 2016, following the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) designation of Hezbollah on March 2, 2016. The decision garnered opposition from Lebanon and Iraq.

Zaki’s announcement does not suggest the decision is related to current regional tensions, but it is worth noting that the Arab League’s retraction of Hezbollah’s terror organization does come amidst heightened tensions between Hezbollah and Israel that are threatening to boil over and open a new front in the war.

The IDF recently stated they had approved operational plans for an offensive into Lebanon, meant to establish a “security zone” in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah and Israel have been clashing on a near-daily basis since October 8th, the day following Hamas’ initial attack against Israel on October 7th.

Tensions have been escalating recently with both sides making threats against the other.

Zaki’s announcement does not mention the recent tensions, though the retraction of the Arab League’s designation certainly comes at an interesting time.