European Parliament members call for Hezbollah ban

The letter explicitly referred to Hezbollah’s role as an 'accomplice' to Assad’s 'brutal war against his own Syrian population'
Friday 23/02/2018
Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session in Strasbourg, France, on February 7. (Reuters)
Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session in Strasbourg, France, on February 7. (Reuters)

LONDON - Sixty members of the EU parliament have written to EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini calling for Lebanon’s Hezbollah to be officially designated a terrorist organisation, claiming the group plays a destabilising role in the region.

The European Union differentiates between the political and military wings of Hezbollah, with the military wing designated as a terrorist group.

“We believe that making a distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘military’ and ‘political’ wings is illogical as it is a notion Hezbollah’s senior leadership themselves consistently and publicly reject,” the letter said.

“Moreover, removing the distinction would put the EU more in line with international consensus as the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Israel, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League all have proscribed Hezbollah in its entirety.”

The letter explicitly referred to Hezbollah’s role as an “accomplice” to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s “brutal war against his own Syrian population” as well as Hezbollah’s participation in international drug-smuggling and money-laundering operations.

The MEPs warned that Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian war helped the Lebanese militia become “the world’s largest and best-equipped terror organisation.”

“Apart from Hezbollah’s well-documented criminal and destabilising policies, its dangerous sectarian strategies both in the Middle East and Europe further threaten the pluralistic fabrics of our societies,” the letter stated.

It also warned that Hezbollah had amassed at least 150,000 rockets in violation of UN Security Resolution 1701.

Hezbollah has been openly fighting alongside pro-regime forces in Syria since 2013. Estimates indicate that 1,300-1,500 Hezbollah fighters have been killed and approximately 5,000 injured in the conflict.

The letter was signed by a broad cross section of MEPs.

“It’s outrageous that the EU still has not denounced Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organisation. Hezbollah’s growing arsenal and entanglement in regional conflicts severely destabilise certain countries and the wider Middle East,” said MEP Anders Vistisen, one of the letter’s initiators.

“It is high time to acknowledge that Islamist inspired terrorism is not only a threat to the Middle East but is also the top threat to Europe’s security,” said Vistisen, a representative of the Danish People’s Party.

The letter was written by Vistisen, MEP Lars Adaktusson, a member of Sweden’s Christian Democrats, and MEP Peter Niedermuller, who represents Hungary’s Democratic Coalition.

“In order to stop Hezbollah’s extensive terrorist activities, the EU approach has to change. Hezbollah is one united organisation and the EU policy cannot be based on a pretend division of this terrorist organisation into a civilian and a military wing,” said Adaktusson.

“It is a widely known fact that Hezbollah, just like Hamas, is a typical terror organisation. Their goal is not peace in the Middle East, but prolonging the crisis and promoting hate,” Niedermuller said.

“We hope @FedericaMog @eu_eeas & @EUCouncil will answer the call!” the letter’s writers posted on Twitter.

Hezbollah’s military wing was designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union in 2012 in response to an attack on an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria that resulted in the death of five Israelis.