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article imageEuropean Union puts Hezbollah's military wing on terror list

By Abdul Kuddus     Jul 23, 2013 in World
Beirut - The European Union has decided to put the military wing of the Lebanese Hezbollah on the EU’s list of terrorist organisations, according to reports.
The Shia Islamic militant group and political party is a strong force and plays a key role in Lebanon’s politics. Its paramilitary wing is apparently more powerful than the Lebanese Army.
Recently the group took part in the Syrian civil war and successfully recaptured the strategic town of Qusayr from the Syrian rebels.
The Iranian-funded organization was primarily formed to offer resistance to the Israeli occupation and is the only civil war-era militia to have a sizeable arsenal in its defence against Israel.
The decision to enforce the ban comes after an alleged terror attack by the group in Bulgaria last year. The pressure to put the group on the terror list has risen from countries like US, Israel, Britain and France, but most of the European nations are still divided on this issue.
There is also a growing international concern over the Iran-supported Shiite militia’s intervention in Syrian civil war which has strengthened Bashar al-Assad’s position against the Syrian opposition.
The Bulgaria bombing was cited by most EU governments as the reason for the ban, but France declared openly that Hezbollah's role in Syria was a major reason in terror listing of the group, Reuters reported.
Moreover, the European Union is divided on a comprehensive ban on the Hezbollah because a ban on the entire group could affect diplomatic relations with Lebanon and destabilize the region if Hezbollah reacts.
Reportedly, the ban seems partial as the European Union has only agreed to target the military wing, which some European diplomats view as ineffective and impractical.
The EU decision to place the Hezbollah’s military wing on its terrorist list entails freezing its assets. But how is the European Union going to separate the military from the political, a dilemma which makes the terror listing by EU a largely symbolic gesture.
The political wing of the Hezbollah is part of the government in Lebanon and the Lebanese government had officially tried to dissuade the EU from taking such a decision.
Commenting on the development, Beirut-based political commentator Rami Khouri termed the move as “totally insufficient.”
He said:
"If the EU can explain to me where the military wing of Hezbollah ends and the political wing start, they should be given a Nobel prize for physics."
While Hezbollah denounced the EU decision as "aggressive and imbalanced," Israel welcomed it as a significant step.
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's spokesperson said the decision ends the wrong argument that Hezbollah's military activities are overlooked by the group's political status.
she said:
"Even if Hezbollah is a political party, that does not whitewash and make legitimate their terrorist activities,"
Commenting on the development, US Secretary of State John Kerry said:
"The move will have a significant impact on Hezbollah's ability to operate freely in Europe by enabling European law enforcement agencies to crack down on Hezbollah's fundraising, logistical activity and terrorist plotting."
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