UK pushing EU to classify Hezbollah as terrorist organisation


The Foreign Office yesterday submitted a formal request for the European Union (EU) to place the military wing of Hezbollah on its’ list of terrorist organisations.

The UK currently classifies Hezbollah’s military arm as a terrorist entity, while the Netherlands is the only other European country to take such a step, proscribing the entire organisation. A EU ban would likely seriously hamper Hezbollah’s financial and logistical capability. The Foreign Office said that it had called for a meeting of the EU’s CP931 working group on the issue to discuss the UK’s request and expected the meeting to take place in the coming weeks. All 27-member states must reach a consensus in order for the EU to adopt such classification.

The Foreign Office explained that the timing of the request comes in the wake of a Bulgarian investigation that found Hezbollah responsible for a bus bomb in the Bulgarian resort of Burgas, which killed five Israeli tourists last July. Reuters quotes a Foreign Office spokesman saying, “Following the atrocious terrorist attack at Burgas airport … We firmly believe that an appropriate EU response would be to designate Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation.” The Foreign Office also cited the March conviction in Cyprus of a Hezbollah operative with dual Swedish-Lebanese nationality who was found guilty of helping plan an attack on Israeli tourists on the island.

It is thought that Hezbollah’s increasingly significant role fighting alongside President Assad’s forces in Syria has also increased the chances of the EU adopting the UK initiative. Over the past few days, Hezbollah forces have provided extensive ground support for Assad’s offensive in Qusair. Nonetheless, the Telegraph notes that EU countries, including France and Italy, are hesitant over blacklisting Hezbollah on the grounds that it may destabilise Lebanon.