The government of the mostly Muslim nation of Bahrain has agreed to compile a list of terror groups and to include Hezbollah on the list, a precedent in the Arab world, according to a report from the Middle East Media Research Institute.
The back story is that it looks to be part of a fight between Muslim factions in the Middle East, the Sunnis and the Shi’ites.
But MEMRI still said the decision for the nation to adopt a parliamentary plan to list terrorist groups and include Hezbollah is of note.
“This is an unprecedented move in the Arab world, which comes after the exposure of terrorist cells and attacks in Bahrain that are attributed to this Lebanese Shi’ite organization,and following Shi’ite protests in the kingdom that began in February 2011,” MEMRI reported.
The Bahraini government claims those attack were directed and funded by Iran and Hezbollah.
Since Bahrain is ruled by Sunnis, but has a population that largely is Shi’ite, there is concern that the goal is to make it an “Iranian province,” MEMRI said.
In fact, one Iranian daily newspaper writer, Hossein Shairatmadara, stated in 2007 that Bahrain “is part of Iran’s soil, having been separated from it through an illegal conspiracy … [by] American and British governments.”
Iran and the Shi’ite faction inside Bahrain both condemned the designation, MEMRI reported.
Meanwhile, the ruling Al-Khalifa regime in Bahrain said the unrest it has been experiencing is because of Iran and that Shi’ite faction. It has complained to the United Nations that Iran and Hezbollah are trying to overturn its regime.
Just last July, Bahrain accused Hezbollah of “orchestrating the escalation of violence in the country and of planting 100-kg (220-pound) bombs,” MEMRI reported.
The report from MEMRI Research Fellow R. Goldberg said the designation followed the growing standoff between the two sides.
“In November 2012 several blasts occurred in the Bahraini capital of Manama, which killed several Asian foreign laborers. Here as well the Bahraini authorities pointed the finger at Hezbollah, claiming that the explosives carried the organization’s ‘fingerprints.’ Following the blasts, Bahraini Information Minister Samira Rajab said: ‘The blasts were carried out by terrorist groups that were trained outside the country and were based in several countries, including Lebanon,’” MEMRI reported.
Then in February, authorities said they arrested eight terrorists who had been trained in Iran and at Hezbollah bases in Iraq.
MEMRI said daily Al-Watan columnist Yousef Al-Benkhalil wrote, “[This is] a decision that we have been awaiting for over a decade, the purpose of which is to distinguish political organizations from terrorist ones. … The parliament met a long-standing popular demand by approving a Bahraini terrorist organization list and placing Hezbollah at the top of it.”
Bahraini opposition leaders, however, said the government’s decision was “worthless” because it is the nation’s own regime that “is directing terrorism against its citizens.”
Iran said Bahrain’s move was part of “a Zionist plan,” MEMRI reported.
The question, however, remains whether other nearby states will follow Bahrain’s lead.
MEMRI said the chief of the Shura Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and National Security, Khalid bin Khalifa Aal-Khalifa, said, “Entering Hezbollah into the list of terrorist organizations has become necessary not just in Bahrain, but in all GCC and Arab states. This, in order to hold accountable any citizen who makes contact with this organization or joins it in planning attacks on the Arab societies in general and in the Gulf in particular.”