(photo credit: Reuters/Khalil Hassan)
BERLIN – A year after Hezbollah’s deadly attack on Israeli and Bulgarian
civilians, the political landscape of Europe’s counterterrorism policies has
profoundly changed. The EU debate has moved from a question mark over whether
Hezbollah as a whole is a terrorist group, to carving the organization into a
terrorist, military wing and a separate political arm.
foreign minister Nikolay Mladenov told The Jerusalem Post that political
consideration plays a role in demarcating Hezbollah’s structure.
believe that a listing of the military wing is important because it focuses the
responsibility on those who use terror as a weapon. This has been the approach
adopted by the UK as well. Hezbollah is also a political party in Lebanon, many
people vote for it. I am sure they don’t vote for it to see their children die
in the service of Assad’s war against the Syrian people, or be engaged in
terrorist acts in Europe or elsewhere.”
The EU’s trans-Atlantic partners,
Canada and the US, which list Hezbollah’s full organization to be a foreign
terrorist entity, want the EU to dislodge all Hezbollah activity from Europe. A
telling example of Hezbollah’s longstanding fundraising and recruitment
activities was documented in an extensive 2009 report published by the European
Foundation for Democracy.
The EFD report revealed that a German
intelligence agency concluded that Hezbollah “built up a structure in Germany in
particular, that covers almost the entire country. The ‘Hizb Allah’ supporters
who live here conceal their activities.”
Germany hosts a network of
Hezbollah mosque associations and charities that funnel money to Hezbollah’s
organization in Lebanon.
The debate between North America and the EU over
designating Hezbollah’s entire movement – or a slice of the organization – as a
terrorist entity reached the Arab Gulf countries on Wednesday. While Bahrain
fully sanctioned Hezbollah, the additional Gulf Cooperation Countries – Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman – are analyzing measures to blacklist
The rift between the full terror designation favored by the
US, Canada, and Israel, and the opposition from the EU, will continue to be a
source of friction for counterterrorism experts.
The game changer might
very well be Hezbollah’s invasion of Syria to wipe out rebel forces seeking to
overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad. Hezbollah has stoked volatility
in the region. Stability in the Middle East remains the chief priority for the