EU Names Hezbollah Terrorist Group
The foreign ministers of the European Union have officially designated the military wing of the Lebanese Shi’ite organization Hezbollah as a terrorist group:
(Reuters) – The European Union agreed on Monday to put the armed wing of Hezbollah on its terrorism blacklist, a move driven by concerns over the Lebanese militant group’s roles in a bus bombing in Bulgaria and the Syrian war.
The powerful Lebanese Shi’ite movement, an ally of Iran, has attracted concern in Europe and around the world in recent months for its role sending thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, an intervention that turned the tide of a two-year-old civil war.
Britain and the Netherlands have long pressed their EU peers to impose sanctions on the Shi’ite Muslim group, citing evidence it was behind an attack in the coastal Bulgarian city of Burgas a year ago, which killed five Israelis and their driver.
Until now, many EU governments had resisted lobbying from Washington and Israel to blacklist the group, warning such a move could fuel instability in Lebanon and add to tensions in the Middle East.
It’s unclear to me what the practical import of this move might be. Putting Hezbollah on the terrorism blacklist would prevent European governments from contributing to the organization and Hezbollah would be prohibited from raising funds privately in Europe. However, European governments aren’t backing Hezbollah as it is and Hezbollah’s most significant foreign support comes either from Iran or the Tri-Border area of South America, where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay come together. Tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars are estimated to flow from that region to various Islamist terrorist groups annually.
Some critics of the move in the Middle East are saying that the EU is just knuckling under to U. S. and Israeli pressure. I doubt it. While nominally being a belated response to the Hezbollah-attributed bombing that took place in Bulgaria a little over a year ago, I suspect that this is mostly a symbolic move, signaling that the EU members who are capable of projecting power are inching towards a more active role in the civil war in Syria, in which Hezbollah has been taking part in support of the Assad government.