Honduras blacklisting of Hezbollah welcome, but no game changer

A small country takes a big step in the right direction

Friends of Zion founder Dr. Mike Evans presents the award to Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández (photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)
Friends of Zion founder Dr. Mike Evans presents the award to Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández
(photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)
Honduras is a small, impoverished country in Central America that is riven with crime and does not have much international influence. The announcement by its president in a Twitter post on Monday that it will declare all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization should, therefore, not be overblown.
We’re talking here about Honduras, not Brazil.
Unlike Honduras, Brazil is a Latin American powerhouse, and one which is contemplating blacklisting Hezbollah in its entirety, but has not yet taken the plunge.
 We’re talking about Honduras, not France, a European country with historical ties to Lebanon and whose blackballing of the entire organization – not an artificial distinction made between its political and military wings – would have a major impact and could lead other European countries to do the same.
What Honduras is doing about Hezbollah is positive, but it is by no means going to tip the scales.
Hezbollah is believed to be very active in drug and criminal activity in other parts of Latin America – particularly the porous tri-border area where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet – and money from for these illicit activities go to fund the organization’s operations around the world.
Brazil is considering blackballing Hezbollah, something the US is urging its Latin American allies to do to significantly impact the organization’s financing from foreign sources. Argentina and Paraguay both took the step last year.
Among the reasons Brazil is believed to be tarrying is because of concerns in the country that this would strain ties with Iran, which imports some $2.5 billion of goods from Brazil each year.
Honduras does not have that consideration, and, in fact, one of the reasons it is believed to be willing to go through with this step is because it hopes that by so doing, it will land on the right side of the US administration, which is actively lobbying its Latin America allies to take the move.
Following the killing of Al Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani earlier this month, the US has an even heightened interest in getting its allies to sanction Hezbollah, since the Lebanon-based organization is widely considered to be Iran’s proxy – the long arm of the Iranian regime – and may be called upon by Iran to extract revenge for the Soleimani killing.
The move by Honduras is a symbolic act of stepping up the pressure on the terrorist organization, an organization that in 2017 reportedly received almost $700 million from Iran, and whose arsenal of missiles – one that would make a small NATO country blush – was supplied by the Iranians.
Iran, however, is today unable to funnel funds into Hezbollah to the same degree it has in the past, simple because – thanks to US sanctions – it does not have the same funds available that it once did. Steps taken, therefore, to further constrict Hezbollah’s ability to raise money abroad would place another crimp on the organization’s already overstretched finances.
But the real steps need to be taken in Europe, where Hezbollah has operatives and supporters fanned out across the continent raising money.
 In addition to Israel, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have all designated Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. By contrast, the EU and most of the countries in it have only blacklisted Hezbollah’s military wing. The Bundestag called for the German government to blacklist the entire organization in December, but that vote was nonbinding, and a German government announcement is still pending.
The reasons for the EU’s hesitance are varied, including a claim that they do not want to destabilize Lebanon’s politics (since Hezbollah is a dominant political party in the country) and the fear that blacklisting Hezbollah would provoke the organization and trigger a terrorist response inside their own countries or against their own nationals.
Nevertheless, weakening Hezbollah – strangling its ability to raise funds – would weaken Iran and its malign influence in the region.
Honduras is to be applauded for the move. It’s just a shame that countries such as Brazil and France are not exactly taking their cues on such matters from Tegucigalpa.