(New York, N.Y.) — Last week, Saudi Arabia designated Hezbollah’s financial arm, Al-Qard al-Hassan Association (AQAH), as a terrorist group due to its financial support for the Iranian-backed terrorist group. Saudi Arabia has also frozen AQAH’s assets within its borders and called for all dealings with the association to cease immediately. The classification comes several months after the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on seven individuals connected to AQAH.
Created in 1982, AQAH reportedly has approximately 300,000 accounts, all held by Hezbollah members or supporters. In recent years, Hezbollah has used AQAH to evade U.S. sanctions on Lebanese banks and access U.S. dollars. Officials with the association have noted a significant increase in deposits through 2020.
The Saudi designation of AQAH is an important step in slowly universalizing the criminalization of Hezbollah in its entirety, ending the artificial distinction between its political and military activities. Regional countries facing Hezbollah’s threat most acutely, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates, have already taken this critical step in countering the group. In Europe, countries once hesitant to fully ban Hezbollah, like the United Kingdom or Germany, have also recently banned the group in its entirety.
Additional pressure from economically powerful and diplomatically influential countries like France and Australia, as well as the European Union, each of which adhere to a fictional view of Hezbollah as two separate entities with ‘political’ and ‘military’ arms despite repeated affirmation from the group’s leaders that it is one body working towards the same goals, would further constrain Hezbollah’s activities.
To read United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)’s resource Global Designations of Hezbollah As A Terror Organization, please click here.