Last updated: 27 May, 2013

Bahrain bans contact with Hezbollah

Shiite-majority Bahrain banned on Monday opposition groups from having contact with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a day after the foreign minister of the Sunni-ruled kingdom branded the Shiite group’s head as a “terrorist”.

“Political associations are prohibited from having any form of contact with the Hezbollah organisation,” Justice Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ali Al-Khalifa said in a ministerial decree.

A second clause in the same decree stated that the Iran- and Syria-backed group is a “terrorist organisation.”

The decision appears aimed at opposition groups, which are mostly Shiites, who dominated anti-regime protests that erupted in February 2011 before coming under a brutal crackdown a month later.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa on Sunday branded Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah as a “terrorist”, in remarks a day after Nasrallah vowed to keep up the fight alongside regime forces in Syria to defeat the rebels.

“Terrorist Nasrallah has declared war on his nation,” Sheikh Khaled wrote on his Twitter account.

“Stopping him and rescuing Lebanon from his grip is a national and religious duty for all of us,” he said, as Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria’s armed conflict deepened.

Last month the decided to list Hezbollah as a “terrorist organisation”, following a recommendation by the parliament that is boycotted by the opposition.

Nasrallah is a popular figure among the Shiites of Bahrain. But the opposition that is battling for democratisation, insists that its political agenda is Bahraini, and not linked to Iran, or other Shiite sides.

Despite the March 2011 crackdown on protests, Shiites continue to demonstrate in their villages, triggering frequent clashes with police.

A total of 80 people have been killed since the protests erupted, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.