Saudi Arabia classifies Lebanese association as terrorist entity for Hezbollah links

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CAIRO -Saudi Arabia classified the Lebanon-based Al-Qard Al-Hassan association as a terrorist entity, citing links to activities supporting Lebanon’s Shi’ite group Hezbollah, state media reported on Wednesday.

“The association works on managing funds for the terrorist organization (Hezbollah) and its financing, including support for military purposes,” the state news agency said quoting a security statement.

The statement said that all assets belonging to the association inside the kingdom should be frozen and “it is prohibited to carry out any direct or indirect dealings with or for the benefit of the association.”

In May, the United States had called on governments worldwide to take action against Lebanon’s Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on seven Lebanese nationals it said were connected to the group and its financial firm, Al-Qard Al-Hassan.

Saudi Arabia has shunned Lebanon for years because of Hezbollah’s strong influence in Lebanese state affairs, which it also says has sent fighters to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition fights another Iran-aligned group, the Houthi movement.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, the leading Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim powers in the Middle East, have been rivals for years and cut diplomatic ties in 2016.

(Reporting by Nayera AbdallahWriting by Ahmad ElhamyEditing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)