The EU must list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization

On July 24th Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis rebuffed his Israeli counterpart’s demand to include Hezbollah in the European list of terrorist organizations. The lack of consensus among European member states has been cited as the reason behind this decision.

This is a strategic error for the EU as it had the opportunity to voice a severe condemnation against what has been the core modus operandi of the self-proclaimed party of God. As a matter of fact, since its inception in 1982 Hezbollah has asserted its political power through the use of political violence aimed at terrorizing its adversaries. If in European politically-correct intellectual circles the adage of: “one’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” has gained almost unchallenged acceptance, ignoring reality will not change it.

In 1983, 58 French paratroopers were killed by a suicide attack led by a group close to Hezbollah, in 1992 and 1994 the group bombed civilian Jewish targets in Argentina (causing more than 100 casualties), allegations sees the party of God linked to attacks in Saudi Arabia (1996) in Turkey (2011) and the most recent one in Bulgaria. The targets and the dynamic vary; from kidnapping and assassination to suicide bombings and car bombs the Lebanese terrorist organization has been developing a major expertise in the use of terror for internal and foreign policy.

Claiming to fight for the Lebanese people, it is now under scrutiny for the murder of the former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and his escort, and when in 2008 it found itself in a political disadvantage it practically enflamed Lebanon to create a civil war situation. Executing POWs and hostages, Hezbollah has been building its paramilitary capabilities outside State practices and beyond any tenet of the Geneva Convention or any other rule of war.

The EU and its members can no longer ignore that Hezbollah is maintaining a position of power in Lebanon through the systematic use of terror. European states cannot oversee the fact that the organization is building an arsenal with Syrian and Iranian weapons which are solely aimed at targeting Israeli population centers or that Hezbollah operatives are forcefully participating in repressions against the Syrian population to provide armed support to Bashar Al Assad’s failing regime. Decision makers should not be blinded by Hezbollah’s social charities and development projects while forgetting that it is the armed proxy of Teheran and Al Assad’s regime in the Near East.

As the EU is finalizing deals to expand economic and commercial ties with Israel, it cannot willfully overlook an organization that is vowed to destroy the Jewish State. Failing to treat Hezbollah as Hamas is major fiasco for the EU. By including it in the EU terrorist lists, the member states would help Israel by sending a strong message of support following the latest massacre of innocent civilian and express unconditionally on what side of History they are in a period of regional crisis. It would also help all Lebanese reformist who are still opposing the Shi’a armed militia. As the infiltration of Hezbollah operatives in the Lebanese State and Defense institutions is growing, the more these measures are delayed the less the impact will be guaranteed and the more the risk of a Lebanese State actively supporting terrorist acts will increase.

By blocking its funding and finances, investigating its members and having an intelligence sharing network similar to the one used for Al Qaeda, the EU would be able to actively protect its citizens and citizens of partner countries against the terrorist attacks perpetrated time and again by Hezbollah.

The EU is by no means a main actor in the Middle Eastern scene but it does carry the voice of 27 members. Following 30 years of a continuous use of political violence aimed at creating terror, the European Union should be mature to unanimously understand that an organization which calls for the destruction of Israel by terror attacks and spreads violence and death worldwide should for the least be included in a formal terrorist list. Instead, it is asking for “tangible proofs” showing that Hezbollah is engaged in terrorist acts, which is ironic as Burgas suicide bomber may have passed through European borders to prepare his attack in Bulgaria.

By not doing taking a strong stance against Hezbollah, the EU is only empowering it and justifying a relativism which would put the legitimate use of state violence for the protection of civilian populations on the same level as widespread and illegal terrorist campaigns.

About the Author
Riccardo Dugulin is an independant international affairs analyst. He holds a Master in International Security from the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Po) and has worked in leading think tanks in Washington DC, Beirut and Dubai and has held the position of security coordinator for a security assistance firm.