EU blacklisting of Hezbollah military wing is over Syria involvement

EU blacklisting of Hezbollah military wing is over Syria involvement
The EU has blacklisted the armed wing of the Lebanese group Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, citing a bombing from last year. This may not be the sole motivation, Sami Ramadani, senior lecturer in sociology at London Metropolitan University told RT.

The UK and the Netherlands insisted that sanctions be placed on the wing, quoting evidence that the group was behind last year’s attack on a bus carrying Israelis in Bulgaria. Seven people were left dead from the bombing, with a further 13 injured. Hezbollah denied involvement, but Bulgarian investigators say they are sure that the group was behind it.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers who decided on the blacklisting that they were “freezing its [Hezbollah’s] assets, hindering its fundraising and thereby limiting its capacity to act.”

RT:The decision by EU ministers comes a year after the bombing in Bulgaria, allegedly plotted by Hezbollah. Why did it take EU officials so long to react?

SR: Well basically because it’s nothing to do with the terrorist attack and Bulgaria, because Bulgaria itself has declared that it only had circumstantial evidence – even that circumstantial evidence is very flimsy. European political figures are on the record as saying that really Bulgaria is not the issue – the issue is to do with recent developments within Syria, within Lebanon itself, whereby there are still possibilities of greater intervention by the west, by the US, backed by some European counties and Turkey, of further intervention in Syria.

It is also ironic that they do this at the same time that Hezbollah’s role in Syria conflict near the Syrian/Lebanese border primarily is to do with the Hezbollah fighters engaging with the terror organizations led by Al-Nusra front and Al-Qaeda type organizations, so Britain, France, and the other EU countries have just designated Hezbollah –which is really fighting – the British foreign secretary as well –fighting the bad guys in Syria.

AFP Photo / Jim Lopez

Putting aside Hezbollah’s activities in the region and looking at the domestic situation there, it is a key player isn’t it, in Lebanese politics, so can the entire EU afford to abandon ties with an entire group that presumably represents a large percentage of the population in the country.

SR: It’s a substantial force: the best organized, and certainly as one political party, it has the biggest following of all. Remember, although Hezbollah is called a Shi’ah organization because it primarily organizes in the south and some suburbs of Beirut, but it has a coalition around it of significant Christian, Sunni Muslim, secular, left, nationalist organizations, and in fact, all this coalition forms a majority in the Lebanese parliament. One of the key allies of Hezbollah in fact is the leader of the Lebanese Parliament.

So what’s the EU saying by distinguishing between the armed aspect of the movement and the political aspect? Presumably it will still carry on talking to those who aren’t armed within Hezbollah? It’s quite confusing, isn’t it – that message?

Yes, it is absolutely, and I think there are sixes and sevens. It’s partly to placate the US – I think Europe has become under pressure from the US and Israel to escalate against Hezbollah, and also I think they are quite worried about developments in Syria as well. But within a Lebanese context – Hezbollah is still a very powerful force, and they seem to be –the west seems to be– increasing its support for the block of forces opposed to Hezbollah and allies inside Lebanon. And really, it adds to the tension in the region, if you like, and it adds fuel to the fires –or potential fires– potential fires in the Lebanese context as well as the Syrian context.

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