The 27-member European Union has largely circled the wagons around the
investigation into Hezbollah’s role in the July suicide bombing of an Israeli
tour bus in Burgas and against including longstanding evidence of Hezbollah’s
terror activities against Israelis, Europeans, Argentinians and
Spain’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gonzalo de Benito and France’s
Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot told The Jerusalem Post this month that
the outcome of the Bulgarian investigation into the murders of five Israelis and
a Bulgarian bus driver is the sine qua non of listing the Lebanese Shi’ite group
as a terror entity on the EU’s list of outlawed terrorist organizations. Critics
see the limited inquiry as a grave mistake.
Mark Dubowitz, the executive
director of the Washington- based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told
the Post on Saturday, “It is absurd that a European decision on whether or not
to ban Hezbollah as a terrorist organization comes down to the results of a
single terrorist attack investigation in Bulgaria.
Hezbollah has much
American and European blood on its hands after three decades of attacks against
innocent civilians, diplomats and peacekeepers.”
De Benito termed the
Bulgarian inquiry “essential” and relegated Hezbollah’s bombing of 58 French
paratroopers in 1983 to an inferior status. Bigot agreed that the main element
in determining Hezbollah’s status is the outcome of the Bulgaria
While both diplomats are cognizant of Hezbollah’s nefarious
activities in murdering Europeans and other victims, the EU ostensibly has
narrowed its departure point to ban Hezbollah to Burgas — the seaside resort
where, according to US and Israeli intelligence officials, a joint
Iran-Hezbollah operation killed six people and injured 32 Israelis in
Dubowitz said Hezbollah is an Iranian surrogate, and that the
Islamic Republic uses it “as the long arm of Iranian influence
“The Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons makes it even
more urgent that Europe respond by targeting all instruments of Iranian power,
of which Hezbollah is one of the most uncompromising, ruthless and
The only EU country to have banned Hezbollah is the Netherlands.
The United Kingdom has merely listed Hezbollah’s military wing as a terror
Veteran observers of Hezbollah’s inner workings view dividing the
organization’s activities into military and political branches as deeply flawed.
In fact, Hezbollah’s No. 2 leader, Naim Qassem, rejects the British separation.
He said in 2009, “Hezbollah has a single leadership,” and “all political, social
and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership.”
added, “The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work
also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel.”
Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs
Center in Herzliya, said Britain has held a “fictitious separation” between the
political and military wings of Hezbollah.
“If the investigation into the
Bulgaria terror attack can finally nudge the Europeans toward action on this
front, that is welcome,” he wrote in an email to the Post. “But lack of evidence
has not been what has prevented the designation in the past, so it remains to be
seen whether the results of the investigation will in fact produce this long
Spyer, the author of The Transforming Fire: The
Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict, added that France and Germany have also
preferred to avoid designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization political
“These countries ‘don’t want trouble’ with Hezbollah, and thus
prefer simply to leave the situation as it is,” said Spyer.
soggy response to Hezbollah’s terrorism prompted an angry response in late
October from US President Barack Obama’s chief counter-terrorism head, John
Brennan. He declared in Dublin that the European opposition to a ban “makes it
harder to defend our countries and protect our citizens.”
prioritized an EU listing of Hezbollah as a terror group because of its global
murder sprees and its ongoing efforts to destabilize the Middle East. He also
noted that, “We have seen Hezbollah training militants in Yemen and
There is no shortage of Hezbollah killing fields. The spectrum
ranges from setting off a van full of explosives at the headquarters of the
Argentine Jewish Community Center in 1994, resulting in the murders of 85 people
and scores of injured, to its attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. The
bombing of the embassy in 1992 killed 29 people and wounded several
Hezbollah, which was created in 1982, launched attacks against
the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon and its military barracks in 1983, resulting
in the murder of 258 Americans.
Tony Badran, a fellow at the Foundation
for Defense of Democracies, who has written extensively about Hezbollah in Syria
and Lebanon, told the Post that the Burgas attack is nothing new from
“We’ve seen this type of Hezbollah activity in the past
against European targets and we continue to see it around the world, including
recently in places like Azerbaijan, India, to name but two.”
Hezbollah is involved, with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, in the
killing of Syrians, especially in the Homs area, and in Lebanon the group has
been accused of multiple assassinations, and has used violence to impose its
political will on the country.
“The view that holds that Hezbollah is in
a process of change toward becoming a pure Lebanese political party is, simply,
delusional,” he said.
The EU is at a critical juncture.
decide whether it wants to protect its citizens, ensure stability in the Middle
East and join the US and its allies in halting Hezbollah’s killing of people
across the globe, as well as the Lebanese group’s criminal and narcotics
The writer is a European affairs correspondent for The
Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.