By Zakaria al-Kamali
Yemen’s Shia Houthi militant group has denounced this week’s move by Gulf countries to designate Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah as a "terrorist" organization.
In a statement, the Houthi leadership said the Wednesday decision by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) designating Hezbollah a terrorist group "only serves the interests of Israel".
The Houthis "remain proud of Hezbollah and its national and moral positions", the statement read, according to Yemen’s pro-Houthi Al-Masirah television channel.
On Wednesday, the GCC -- comprised of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman -- formally designated Hezbollah a "terrorist" group, describing the group’s recent actions in Syria, Yemen and Iraq as a "threat to Arab national security".
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies accuse Shia Hezbollah -- Lebanon’s most powerful military force -- of serving as a proxy for Iran and of hijacking Lebanese policy-making.
Hezbollah, for its part, denounces Saudi military intervention in Yemen, where Riyadh is leading a fierce campaign against the Houthis, which in 2014 overran much of the country and which Saudi Arabia accuses of serving Iranian interests.
Last month, Riyadh cancelled a promised $3-billion grant to the Lebanese army for the purchase of French arms and a $1-billion grant to the country’s internal security forces -- a move backed by the GCC.
Shortly afterward, the GCC -- in a veiled reference to Shia Iran -- voiced its "deep regret" that Lebanese policy had become "hostage to the interests of external regional powers".
Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf States have gone so far as to warn their citizens against traveling to Lebanon, calling on their nationals living in the country to leave.