Congress to EU: ‘No difference’ between politics and military for Hezbollah

Congressmen implore EU to consider designating the whole of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

113th Congress in Washington (photo credit: REUTERS)
113th Congress in Washington
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the US House of Representatives has prepared a letter for Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative on foreign affairs and security, congratulating the EU for successfully listing Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization last month.
But in the letter, signed by 47 members of Congress as of Friday, the legislators suggest the EU did not go far enough.
“This designation is a significant step in preventing terrorism and loss of life,” the letter says. “However, we maintain that there is no difference between Hezbollah’s political and military wings.... The same leadership oversees the political, social, criminal and terrorist operations.... We hope that the EU will consider designating the whole of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.”
After years of pressure from the US and interest groups, the EU made the delineation without clarifying how the group’s political and military wings were in fact separate. It required unanimity for the reclassification, and Austria held back support on many rounds of voting, fearing Hezbollah reprisals on the European continent.
The US and Israel classify the Lebanon-based group in its entirety as a terrorist organization.
In justifying this, the US Treasury Department notes that Hezbollah raises funds for various political projects through international criminal activities, including drug trafficking and relatively elaborate money laundering schemes.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) told The Jerusalem Post that the delineation was “useless” and simply a matter of political will in the EU.
“We’ll have to see what this will mean,” Waxman said, unsure of the ramifications within EU law for blacklisted organizations or their various branches. “I would’ve liked for them to have gone further.”