On July 16, France 24 held a roundtable discussion on the topic “Has the West
forgotten about Syria?” Around 5,000 people are dying each month in Syria in a
conflict that has claimed more than 80,000 lives. The death tolls have only
risen since Hezbollah decided to intervene fully in the conflict by committing
large numbers of terrorists to fight in the Battle of Qusair on June 5. Now is
the time, with Hezbollah increasingly involved in human rights abuses, for the
EU to label the organization a terrorist group, thus cutting off its funding
sources and ensuring that fewer Syrians die at its hands.
experts have been meeting in the past month on the issue of adding Hezbollah’s
“military wing” to their list of terrorist organizations.
however, must be unanimous in the 28-member block. Austria, the Czech Republic,
Ireland, Malta and Slovakia have reportedly not agreed to support the move. The
EU experts met on Thursday, and the EU Foreign Affairs Council is scheduled to
meet in Brussels on Monday.
UK politicians have been leading calls for
the EU to finally designate at least part of the organization as terrorist.
Michael McCann, a Labor MP, noted “it’s a scandal that the UK has only
proscribed part of Hezbollah, giving the impression that a distinction can be
drawn between Hezbollah’s terrorists and those that purport to be
Charles Tannock, a British member of EU Parliament, said,
“There are also reports that money is being raised now in EU territory and being
sent to Hezbollah in Lebanon and possibly Syria.”
importance are reports that France has changed its mind. As recently as 2005,
French intelligence experts to US diplomats that they were unconvinced Hezbollah
was a terrorist organization.
EU member states have often expressed fears
that designating Hezbollah will further destabilize Lebanon. The irony of this
charade is that, without the EU designating it as terrorist, the organization
has not only gone on to destabilize Lebanon but also the region through its
support for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal policies.
The day it
became clear that Hezbollah fighters were walking around freely in Syria, in
uniform and with their flags and military convoys, it should have set off alarm
bells in Europe that the organization’s involvement was clearly at odds with EU
policy, which has been to support the opposition.
agents have been arrested in Cyprus and the organization was implicated in the
July 18, 2012, bus bombing in Bulgaria. In March, operative Hossam Yaacoub was
convicted in Cyprus on charges of plotting to kill Israeli tourists there. As
recently as a month ago, Bulgarian representatives informed the EU they had
determined that a Hezbollah operative had facilitated the creation of documents
connected to the Burgas bombing.
Recent reports indicate that Hezbollah
fighters are operating in southern Syria as well, helping to terrorize people in
Deraa province, which borders Jordan and the southern Golan Heights. Some Syrian
rebels see Hezbollah’s involvement as tipping the balance in favor of the
These developments are worrisome, not only for Syria’s rebel
groups and Jordan, but for Israel.
After years of dithering the EU should
list Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Listing only its “military wing” is a
start, but there is no real difference between the wings. Nevertheless this is a
minimum first step in confronting an organization that has for too long
terrorized not only the region, but EU member states such as Bulgaria as well.