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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid