30 countries took part in U.S.-led meeting on countering Hezbollah
Diplomats, law enforcement officers and intelligence experts from Israel, Saudi Arabia, four other Gulf states and two dozen additional countries gathered in late June for a two-day meeting, organized by the U.S. State Department, on countering Hezbollah's illicit activities, according to U.S. and Israeli officials.
Why it matters: The meeting of the Law Enforcement Coordination Group, which was established in 2014, was part of an effort led by the U.S. to mobilize countries to counter Hezbollah’s activities outside of Lebanon in order to block its terror, finance and procurement networks, a State Department official told Axios.
Driving the news: 30 countries attended the meeting on June 29-30, which was held in Europe and was the first such meeting since President Biden took office.
- Officials from Bahrain, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and many European, African and Latin American countries took part, according to sources with direct knowledge.
- Hezbollah, a political and militant organization based in Lebanon, has been declared a terrorist group by about 20 countries as well as the Arab League and EU. There was a push during the meeting for more countries — particularly in Africa and Latin America — to join them, according to a State Department official who attended the meeting.
- European countries that had more recently designated Hezbollah a terrorist group encouraged other countries to follow suit and noted that Hezbollah did not retaliate after their designations, the official said.
Behind the scenes: The State Department official said one of the main points the U.S. wanted to stress to the participants was that despite the economic problems in Iran and Lebanon, Hezbollah is still expanding its terror and criminal activity around the world.
- The main area of concern discussed in the meeting was Hezbollah’s operations in Africa and Latin America, where the State Department official said the organization is looking for alternative sources of financing and procurement.