US Congress 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – A bipartisan group of 76 US senators sent a mid-September letter
urging the EU to include Hezbollah on its terror list.
The Republican and
Democratic senators wrote to Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high
representative for foreign affairs and security policy, saying “Primarily
through Iran’s Republican Guard Corps, Hezbollah has been the largest
beneficiary of Iran’s support for terrorist activities, and in the past year,
there has been a sharp spike in terrorist attacks planned by Iran and Hezbollah
throughout the world.”
The letter – signed by veteran foreign policy
experts such as John McCain (R-Arizona), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) and Chuck
Schumer (D-New York) – continued that “As Iran’s isolation grows due to
increasing sanctions and the hopefully imminent fall of the Assad regime in
Syria, we fear further escalation of terrorist activities by Iran and Hezbollah
against Western interests to include Europe.”
The senators warned Ashton,
the EU’s top diplomat who is responsible for negotiating an end to Iran’s
nuclear crisis, that “We believe the evidence and dangers posed by Hezbollah and
Iran to all European citizens are serious enough to designate Hezbollah a
terrorist organization. A terrorist designation from the EU would not only
subject Hezbollah to further sanctions, but would also send a message to
Hezbollah that Europe and the United States will not tolerate its dangerous and
The US designated Hezbollah a foreign terrorist
organization in 1995. Key European countries have blocked efforts to label
Hezbollah a terror entity. Germany, which has seen a rise of Hezbollah members
within its borders from 900 in 2010 to a current figure of 950 in 2012, refuses
to push for a terror label for the radical Islamic group. Experts also view
France as recalcitrant on the issue, largely because Paris does not want to
diminish its diplomatic leverage in Lebanon, where Hezbollah has de facto
control over the government.
While attending a meeting of EU foreign
ministers earlier this month in Cyprus, UK Foreign Minister William Hague said
“I would like to see the EU designate and sanction the military wing of
Hezbollah.” The UK has banned the military wing of Hezbollah but not its
In response to the current UK hybrid designation,
the senators wrote in their letter, “the United States does not differentiate
between Hezbollah’s political and militant wings, nor should Europe.
EU should recognize Hezbollah for what it is – a terrorist organization – and
stand with the United States against Hezbollah in all its
Holland, which is the only EU country to label Hezbollah a terror
entity, urged the EU outlaw the presence of Hezbollah within its
“We have for quite some time now argued that effective European
measures should be taken against Hezbollah,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Uri
Rosenthal at the Cyprus meeting.
Rosenthal noted that the move to ban
Hezbollah would allow Europe to freeze the organization’s assets.
letter from the US senators accused Hezbollah of waging attacks against
“The US State Department’s Country Report on Terrorism named
Hezbollah as the likely perpetrator of the 2011 attacks on UN Interim Force in
Lebanon peacekeepers that injured six Italian soldiers, three French soldiers
and six French civilians,” wrote the senators.
US and Israeli
intelligence agencies attributed the July suicide bombing of a bus of full of
Israeli tourists in Bulgaria to a joint Iran-Hezbollah terror operation.
According to the senators’ letter, “We extend our deepest sympathies to the
families of the victims, including the Bulgarian bus driver and five Israeli
tourists. As this incident is investigated, the United States and the EU must
demonstrate our common commitment to opposing terrorism wherever it
The German government – and news outlets – has been largely mum
In late August, however, Philipp Missfelder, the foreign
policy spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, wrote to The
, “It is long overdue to place Hezbollah on the EU’s list of
terror organizations.” Hezbollah “threatens the security of our alliance partner
Israel and is involved in countless terror activities and receives protection
from the Iranian regime.”
Missfelder added that “the EU should not allow
any more time to elapse” regarding the ban of Hezbollah, because “an
organization that agitates against our friends in Israel cannot be accepted in
He appealed to Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-
Marcoullis, whose country holds the presidency of the 27-member EU, to take
action against Hezbollah.
Kozakou-Marcoullis has argued that “There is no
consensus for putting Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations” and
further justified the EU refusal to blacklist Hezbollah because the group
performs social service work.
Critics argued that Kozakou- Marcoullis
ignored a 2005 EU parliament resolution that the legislative body “considers
that clear evidence exists of terrorist activities on the part of Hezbollah and
that the Council should take all necessary steps to curtail them.”