The UK is poised to declare Hezbollah in its entirety a terrorist organization. Although slow on the uptake – Britain only outlawed the group’s military wing in 2013 – the move by Home Secretary Sajid Javid is most welcome.
“Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party,” Javid said.
The UK government cited Hezbollah’s continual amassing of weapons in contravention of U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom they note prolonged the Syrian civil war through the “brutal and violent repression of the Syrian people.”
The declaration means both the military and political wing of the organization – and any support for them — will be banned. The designation will face a vote in parliament, where it is expected to pass despite possible opposition by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who once referred to both Hezbollah and the Gaza-based Hamas terror group as “friends.”
The move follows Hezbollah’s unprecedented political gains in the recently-formed Lebanese government, where the terror group – with its allies – now controls 67 out of the 128 parliamentary seats as well as the fourth-largest ministry in the government and its considerable budget.
The U.S., which designated the Iranian proxy group as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, does not distinguish between the group’s military and political wings. Nor do Canada, the Netherlands, the Arab League and Israel.
As the Investigative Project for Terrorism writes, “Even [Hezbollah] leaders acknowledge that the distinctions are futile. The militant group is hierarchically organized and each of the group’s specialized wings – including departments devoted to social service provisions or external terrorist attacks – answer to its political leadership.”
Yet unsurprisingly, French President Emmanuel Macron declined to follow the UK’s lead, stating, “France and no other power has the right to decide what Lebanese political parties are good and which are not. This is up to the Lebanese people.”
Germany, as well, will not follow the move. According to numerous intelligence reports, “Germany allows 950 Hezbollah operatives to raise funds and recruit new members in the Federal Republic,” The Jerusalem Post reported. The country’s alliance with Iran (and hence with Iran’s proxies) through the 2015 nuclear deal –and the tremendous amount of money it’s subsequently slated to make on its resultant investments in the Islamic Republic – no doubt contributed to Germany’s rebuff of President Donald Trump’s demand a year ago that all the European signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.
With its advanced weaponry and thousands of fighters, Hezbollah (the “Party of God”) now has one of the strongest military forces in the Middle East. It has posed a threat to the U.S. and Europe since its formation in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps under the first Supreme Leader and head of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Hezbollah began its terror activities with a kidnapping spree of Americans and Europeans, executing high-profile names such as the Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley. It “progressed” to major terror operations including the attacks in Beirut on the U.S. Embassy (which killed 63, including 17 Americans) and on the U.S. Marine barracks (which killed 241 U.S. service members).
It followed these up with an attack in 1996 on U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia (which killed 18 U.S. airmen), after which the U.S. designated the group as a foreign terrorist organization.
In the subsequent years, with Iran’s help and a burgeoning international drug-smuggling and money-laundering business, Hezbollah built itself into the explosively dangerous organization that it is today. It’s most recent penetration into the whole of Central and South America are particularly threatening to the U.S.
European countries, which have been the site of Hezbollah terror attacks as well as the source for the money laundering that funds this organization, must step forward and follow Britain’s lead. The war against Hezbollah must be fought on many levels, including the political.