After 30 years of hesitation, the European Union timidly admitted that Hezbollah’s armed wing was a terror organization. Catherine Ashton, who is in charge of EU foreign policy, hastened to say that this measure would in no way impact the ongoing dialogue between the EU and the organization. Or in other words for the EU, Hezbollah is a political party which may have strayed from the straight and narrow by setting up an “armed wing,” but can be made to see the error of its ways through “moderate pressure.”
Facts tell a different story. Hezbollah was created by Iran’s Khomeini in the early Eighties as a terror organization to serve as a stepping stone for that country’s ambition to export its “Islamic Revolution” to the Middle East – that is, to establish a Islamic Shi’ite regime led by Iran.
Its original manifesto stated: “We are the sons of the Ummah [Muslim community] – the Party of God [Hizb Allah
], the vanguard of which was made victorious by God in Iran. There the vanguard succeeded to lay down the basis of a Muslim state which plays a central role in the world. We obey the orders of one leader, wise and just, that of our tutor and faqih
[Islamic jurist] who fulfills all the necessary conditions: Ruhollah Khomeini.”
Its ideology, directly inspired by Khomeini, is simple: Islam, and Islam alone, must rule both countries and individuals. There is no room either for nationalistic programs or liberal views calling for equality and pluralism. Democracy is the enemy; the Koran is the only source and reference.
This extremist ideology includes explicit calls for the destruction of Israel and indeed from its inception the organization has been a bitter enemy of what it calls “the Zionist entity.”
The organization draws its name from some of the harshest verses of the Koran, enjoining the faithful not to consort with Christians and Jews, for on Judgment Day only the partisans (hezb
) of Allah will see the gates of Eden open. (Suras
: The Table, verse 55 and The Pleading, verse 22 in the Arabic original).
THE NUCLEUS of the organization, which was born during the Israeli intervention in Lebanon, came from a splinter group of the Amal movement. Iran dispatched hundreds of members of its Revolutionary Guards to train and mold this new Shi’ite militia because it saw an opportunity not only to establish in the country an Islamic republic led by Hezbollah but also to gain a foothold in the Middle East.
Hezbollah did initiate, under a variety of assumed names, such as “The oppressed of the world,” a series of terror attacks and abductions of Western citizens in Lebanon. These included the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in which 240 American soldiers were killed, and that of the French headquarters, leaving 63 French soldiers dead, as well as countless attacks against Israel.
At the same time Hezbollah, supported by Syria, started clawing its way to power, taking advantage of the weakening of the Amal party. Thanks to the funding and training of Iran as well as its massive transfer of weapons, Hezbollah had become the strongest militia in the country. Its actions against Israel had made it a favorite of the Lebanese and the Arab public. The rapprochement between Syria and Iran which followed the Gulf War was an added bonus: state of the art weapons and ammunition flowed freely from Tehran to Lebanon through Syria.
Soon Hezbollah became a state within a state, with no military power to oppose it.
Sunni and Christian leaders began to fear for the independence and integrity of the country. Hezbollah, its weapons and its links with Iran became a hot topic and a central issue in the so-called “national dialogue” trying to find a common ground among the many ethnic and religious communities of the country.
Meanwhile, following Tehran’s orders, Hezbollah was branching out in several directions, setting up terror cells in the Gulf states – which led to Bahrain branding it a terror organization – as well as in India, Pakistan, Latin America and Europe, with a view to implementing the “Islamic revolution.”
In Latin America it turned to the lucrative drug trade to finance its activities. In 1993 the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was destroyed by a bomb; three years later the Jewish community center of the town was reduced to rubble, leaving dozens dead and hundreds wounded. At the same time terror attacks were carried out against Israel, even though Israel had withdrawn its troops from Lebanon.
It included firing Katyusha missiles at civilian targets, raids, kidnapping soldiers and attempts to set up a terror network inside Israel. This led to increasingly severe clashes between Israel and Lebanon, culminating in the Second Lebanon War of 2006 during which no fewer than 3,500 missiles were fired against northern Israel.
In 2009 a terror cell was discovered in Egypt; its members were planning chaos in the Sinai Peninsula and along the Suez Canal to weaken the Mubarak regime, which had taken the leadership of the pragmatic Arab states antagonistic to Iran.
Back in Lebanon, Hezbollah was flexing its political muscle. In 1992 nine members were elected to the parliament and the organization became officially part of the political game. It allied itself with what was left of the Amal party as well as with one of the leading Christian movements, led by General Aoun. In 2005 it was involved in the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri; the international court set up to investigate the crime ordered the arrest of four Hezbollah members but the organization flatly refused to let them be extradited. It also flatly refused to implement the many UN Security Councils resolutions calling to dismantle its armed branch, including resolution 1701 which ended the Second Lebanon War.
Hezbollah repeatedly defied the central government, confident that its militia made it untouchable. In the 2009 parliamentary elections the party of god and its allies gained 57 seats as opposed to the 71- seat coalition of Sunnis, Christians and Druse. Yet Hezbollah and its allies demanded, and received, a third of all cabinet posts. Later they brought down the government formed by Saad Hariri, the new prime minister. Mikati gave them 18 ministers out of 30 but soon gave up and resigned. The prime minister-designate, Salam Tamam, has not been able to form a new government.
Lebanon is deep into a political crisis which threatens its integrity and stability.
However, this did not stop Hezbollah from launching or trying to launch more and more terror attacks abroad – from Thailand to Turkey, Azerbaijan and Cyprus. Yet even the fact that it had carried out a deadly attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, did not convince the EU that it was indeed a terror organization.
It was only when the extent of its intervention in the Syrian civil war was revealed that the EU reluctantly came to the conclusion that it could no longer drag its feet and included what it called the organization’s armed branch in the list of terror organizations.
To sum up: Hezbollah is as deadly as al- Qaida; it does the bidding of its patron, Iran; and by refusing to acknowledge that it is a terror organization, the EU has awarded militant Islam a significant victory which demonstrates that Europe is not willing to confront it openly.
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