Shiite-majority Bahrain banned on Monday opposition groups from having contact with Lebanon's Hizbullah, a day after the foreign minister of the Sunni-ruled kingdom branded the group's head, Hassan Nasrallah, as a "terrorist".
"Political associations are prohibited from having any form of contact with the Hizbullah organization," Justice Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ali Al-Khalifa said in a ministerial decree quoted by AFP.
A second clause in the same decree stated that the Iran- and Syria-backed group is a "terrorist organization."
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 Hizbullah 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, according to AFP.
"Stopping him and rescuing Lebanon from his grip is a national and religious duty for all of us," he said.
In April, Bahrain became the first Arab country to blacklist Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. The move came a week after the Bahraini parliament voted to label the group a terrorist organization.
Its alleged backing and training of radical Shiite groups against Bahrain was the main reason given for the decision. In November, Bahraini police arrested four suspects in connection with bombings that killed two Asian expatriates in the capital Manama and fingered Hizbullah as being behind the attacks.
Iran, meanwhile, said on Tuesday it regretted Bahrain’s move to ban contact with Hizbullah.
“Bahrain’s stance towards Hizbullah is regretful,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi said at his weekly press conference, according to AFP.
Araqchi said Hizbullah has an “undeniable” role in ensuring Lebanon’s security and stability and accused Bahrain of “deflecting its domestic problems on foreign groups.”