by MARK SILVERBERG:
The long-awaited results of the Bulgarian investigation into the Burgas terrorist bombing last July 18th has placed enormous pressure on the European Union to proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization – a classification repeatedly called for by the US, Canada and Israel, but so far rejected by EU member states except the Netherlands.
Hezbollah’s involvement in the Burgas tragedy should make European leaders rethink the standard excuses they have made to rationalize their lack of action against Hezbollah. One often-quoted EU excuse maintains that since Hezbollah in Lebanon has both a military aspect and a political/social aspect, clamping down on the former would cripple the latter and destabilize the Hezbollah-dominated government of the country.
While this hair splitting gives Hezbollah the wiggle room it needs to carry on its nefarious activities in Europe, the argument has no validity given that the EU’s terror list already includes Hamas, which won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, as well as the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other radical organizations that are involved in their countries’ political systems. And given that the EU has already sanctioned individuals and entities “responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria”, there is no logical reason to exclude Hezbollah as it clearly falls into this category given its continuing support of the Assad regime.
This argument is especially vacuous given that Hezbollah’s second-in-command Naim Qassem has already rejected the British separation of his organization into political and military wings. Qassem told the Los Angeles Times in 2009: “The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work (in Lebanon) also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel.”
Stripping away all this double-speak, EU member states, most notably France and Germany, fear that proscribing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization could potentially lead to the activation of Hezbollah terror cells across the continent. According to Matthew Levitt, the Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s counterterrorism and intelligence program, the Europeans are afraid to stir up a hornet’s nest. “Hezbollah” he writes, “is not very active in Europe and the Europeans feel that if you poke Hezbollah or Iran in the eye, they will do the same to you. If you leave them alone, then maybe they will leave you alone.”
France is particularly apprehensive given the exposure of its UNIFIL forces in Lebanon to Hezbollah fire, and it is even more concerned that designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization would, once again, bring Hezbollah/Iranian-directed terrorism back to its streets.
Read more at Family Security Matters
Mark Silverberg is an attorney with a Masters Degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Manitoba, Canada. A former member of the Canadian Justice Department and a past Director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (Western Office) based in Vancouver, he served as a Consultant to the Secretary General of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem during the first Palestinian intifada. He is a member of Hadassah’s National Academic Advisory Board, a foreign policy analyst with the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel) and the International Analyst Network (U.S.), and has been interviewed on Israel National Radio as an authority on American foreign policy in the Middle East. His editorials and articles on Middle East affairs have appeared in the NATIV Journal of the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel), Israel Insider, the Conservative Voice, Family Security Matters, Israel Unity Coalition, The Intelligence Summit, Midstream and Outpost magazines and Arutz Sheva (Israel National News). He has lectured extensively on subjects of counterterrorism, jihadism, homeland security issues and intelligence matters and is a Featured Writer with the New Media Journal (Chicago). He is the author of “The Quartermasters of Terror: Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Jihad (Wyndham Hall Press, 2005). His articles and book have been archived under
- Hezbollah: The World’s Most Dangerous “Charity” (shariahfinancewatch.org)
- Analysis: EU treats Hezbollah with its own logic – Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)
- Why won’t Europe state the obvious about Hezbollah? (timesofisrael.com)
- Bulgaria Points Finger at Hezbollah (counterjihadreport.com)