News / Middle East

Lebanon Unhappy With Hezbollah Blacklisting

A car bomb explodes on July 9 in Beirut's southern suburbs, stronghold of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement, one of several attacks linked to Hezbollah's role in the Syrian civil war.
A car bomb explodes on July 9 in Beirut's southern suburbs, stronghold of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement, one of several attacks linked to Hezbollah's role in the Syrian civil war.
The European Union now considers much of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement a terrorist organization and that is complicating efforts to form a new government in Beirut, according to Lebanese officials.
 
The blacklisting of Hezbollah’s military wing came after months of lobbying by Britain and the Netherlands and with the encouragement of the United States. The EU decision, which also follows Hezbollah’s forceful intervention in the Syrian civil war, went ahead this week despite diplomatic efforts by Lebanese officials to head it off.
 
Lebanese officials had warned the EU that the timing of the terror designation would be unhelpful to prime minister-designate Tamman Salam’s efforts to form a new cabinet.
 
The Lebanese were also worried that the terror designation could cause further troubles between Lebanon’s Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities, which have clashed repeatedly because of Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria.
  
In a bid to defuse Shiite anger over the blacklisting, some of Hezbollah’s main Sunni critics have been especially cautious about the EU move, not wishing to add to political tensions. The Future Movement, Hezbollah’s main Sunni rival, expressed “extreme regret and concern” at the EU decision.
 
In a statement, the Future Movement praised Hezbollah for its role in defending Lebanese territory from Israel and said the Shiite group was an “essential Lebanese faction that represents a significant slice of the Lebanese.” Even so, it called on Hezbollah to end its military support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to withdraw its fighters from Syria.
 
Syria intervention was key factor
 
Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, told Al-Arabiya TV that Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria was a key reason for the blacklisting. EU countries that supported the move say also there is compelling evidence that Hezbollah was behind a bomb attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year in which six people died. The group denies any involvement.
 
Syrian troops roll into the center of Qusair June 5, 2013, after capturing the stragegic town with key help from Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.Syrian troops roll into the center of Qusair June 5, 2013, after capturing the stragegic town with key help from Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.
x
Syrian troops roll into the center of Qusair June 5, 2013, after capturing the stragegic town with key help from Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.
Syrian troops roll into the center of Qusair June 5, 2013, after capturing the stragegic town with key help from Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.
Lebanon’s President, Michel Sleiman, has urged the European Union to reconsider its decision to list Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group.
 
Negotiations over the formation of a new cabinet have been prolonged and difficult and the country is now being run by a caretaker government.
 
The Future Movement-led March 14th bloc has backed a bid by Salam, the prime minister-designate, to form a non-partisan government. For its part, the Hezbollah-led March 8th alliance wants a cabinet lineup that represents the political parties according to their size in Parliament – a formula that would allow the Shiite party to dominate the next government as much as it did the last one.
 
“The EU’s decision has now almost guaranteed Hezbollah intransigence,” said an adviser to the Future Movement. “Hezbollah will not only stick to its demand for veto power on any major decisions by a future government, but it will also want to dominate the next cabinet to make a point to the Europeans and to force the Europeans to have to deal with Hezbollah politicians and those aligned with the movement.
 
“The message will be to emphasize Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon” the adviser said.
 
U.S. made similar move
 
In its condemnation of the EU decision, Hezbollah appeared to hint that it intends to adopt just such an approach and to embarrass the EU. It warned that when the United States made a similar move against Hezbollah, “that only generated further failures and disappointments” for the West.
 
The blacklisting raises many questions about how EU countries plan to deal with Lebanon. European officials and diplomats have stressed since the blacklisting was announced that the terror designation only applies to Hezbollah’s military wing and not to the movement’s political arm or to its social and welfare work running hospitals and clinics and providing aid to the jobless or Syrian refugees.
 
British Ambassador Tom Fletcher said on his Twitter feed that the organization’s blacklisting of Hezbollah would not affect dealings with the party’s political wing. It “does not alter cooperation with Lebanon [government], nor EU contact with political [representatives],” Fletcher said.
 
In meetings this week, the EU’s ambassador in Lebanon, Angelina Eichhorst, has carried the same message, arguing the Europeans had to show that “acts of terrorism are unacceptable irrespective of the perpetrators,” but insisting it would “not prevent the continuation of dialogue with all political parties in Lebanon and would not affect the EU’s financial support to Lebanon including humanitarian assistance.”
 
“The EU will work with any cabinet that represents all parties and even if Hezbollah was part of it,” Eichhorst told reporters following a meeting with caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour.
 
Critics of the terrorist designation say dividing up Hezbollah between politicians and fighters is meaningless. Most analysts agree, arguing it is impossible to distinguish between the different wings, with the same personnel functioning in both. British Foreign Secretary William Hague appeared to concede that in his remarks welcoming the EU move, saying, “we will have to distinguish as best we can” between the group’s various parts.
 
Supporters of the blacklisting argue that the fine print and distinctions don’t matter. They say the terrorist designation is meant only as a warning to Hezbollah, an effort to persuade the movement’s leaders to pull back from defending Assad, and to refrain from any repeat on European soil of last year’s bombing in Bulgaria.
 
Matthew Levitt, a former deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department, believes the EU blacklisting could prove successful as an exercise in making Hezbollah think twice before repeating anything like the Bulgarian bombing.

“It is very likely that Hezbollah will curtail the amount of its activities in Europe having to do with militancy or fundraising,” Levitt said.
 
That is also the position of the influential Daily Star newspaper in Beirut. In an editorial, it argued that “the EU has so far been magnanimous toward Lebanon by differentiating between the military and political wings of Hezbollah. This act of charity will spare Lebanon – whose fate is so intertwined with the resistance party – the immediate, devastating consequences that could have come” if the entire movement had been blacklisted.
 
It urges Hezbollah “to reflect,” arguing, “if Hezbollah doubles down on its fighting in Syria, the decision can just as easily be amended to cover all Hezbollah members.”

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: karrar zaidi from: lucknow,India
July 25, 2013 12:26 PM
E.U.,instead of toeing the U.S.and Canada should formulate their own policies to suit their political ends.They have already lost a case in Syria where Russia and China combine has forced them out of the play field.In Lebanon it is impossible to identify military and political wings of Hezbollah separately.Hezbollah is an inseparable part of Lebanon politic and any attempt to divide them is bound to fail.At most they can invite Lebanon to go to Russia-Chino fold.


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 25, 2013 11:39 AM
What is the bickering about, and what is the double speak by the EU to straightway say Hezbollah is a terrorist organization? Asking Hezbollah to curtail its terrorist activities on EU soil does not make it any less a terrorist. This shows the double standard of European politics. So if Hezbollah strikes in South America or Africa, it will not be recorded as a terrorist act. It is a shame that Lebanon is fighting for Hezbollah instead of using the opportunity to disband or reform it. As far away as Nigeria, Hezbollah's terrorist activities keep people sleepless. For fronting for Hezbollah, Lebanon should itself be blacklisted until the whole country finds ways round being an Iranian stooge to terrorize the world.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid