|Objects of adoration: Syrian holds poster with portraits |
of Syrian president/tyrant Bashar al-Assad
and Hezbollah chief Nasrallah during pro-Assad rally
Damascus January 11, 2012 [Image Source]
Bahrain’s Parliament declares Hezbollah a terrorist group | March 26, 2013 | Bahrain’s lawmakers voted on Tuesday to label the Lebanese militia a terrorist organization, the Lebanon-based news outlet Now Lebanon reported. Tensions have been high since Bahrain accused Hezbollah of seeking to overthrow its government in 2011. According to a report sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2011, the ruling Sunni Khalifa family asserted that Hezbollah trained insurgents in Lebanon and the Islamic Republic of Iran to topple its government. The move to designate Hezbollah a terror entity comes on the heels of EU talks about banning Hezbollah within the 27-member body because of terror operations. Last week, a Cyprus criminal court convicted a Hezbollah member for plotting to kill Israeli tourists on the small Island. In addition to the foiled Cyprus plot, Bulgaria’s interior minister issued a report last month asserting two Hezbollah operatives participated in the terror attack on an Israeli tour bus in the Black Sea resort of Burgas. The bombing in Burgas resulted in the deaths of five Israelis, their Bulgarian bus driver, and severe injuries to 32 Israelis.The Times of Israel, quoting Israel Radio, says tonight that Bahraini legislators called on the other Persian Gulf states to do the same. The US and Israel have been pressing Europe's governments to outlaw Hezbollah as a terrorist group. President Obama repeated the call here last week during his visit to Israel. Hezbollah gets its backing from two major sources: the government of Syria and the government of Iran.
Major EU countries Germany and France have resisted including Hezbollah in the EU terror list because of insufficient legal evidence. JTA reported on Friday that Karl-Matthias Klause, the spokesman for the German Embassy in Washington, said “Our position is that we've always said that if we have proof that holds up in court, we can enter the procedure. There is a general readiness into looking into forbidding the military wing of Hezbollah.”
It is unclear if the legal verdict in Cyprus will influence a change in the German and French positions opposing a ban. The Netherlands is the only EU country to designate Hezbollah’s entire organization a terrorist group. The United Kingdom classifies Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization. Proponents of a ban of Hezbollah argue a terrorist listing would freeze Hezbollah’s capability to fund-raise and procure weapons in Europe, as well as mount new terror attacks on European soil.
Germany has a large contingent of Hezbollah operatives. According to the country’s domestic intelligence agency, 950 Hezbollah members operate legally in the Federal Republic.
There's some sharp and useful background in a recent New Yorker magazine profile entitled "AFTER SYRIA: If the Assad regime falls, can Hezbollah survive?", by Dexter Filkins. He writes:
In an Arab world dominated by Sunni Muslims, Hezbollah agitates on behalf of Shiite identity—forming, along with Syria and Iran, a column of resistance sometimes called the Shiite Axis. With Syrian and Iranian help, Hezbollah has become the most powerful force in Lebanon. Too strong to be challenged even by the government, it has set up its own mini-state and built one of the world’s most sophisticated guerrilla armies. It has kept up a relentless campaign to confront Israel, even provoking a war in 2006... [But] the issue of Hezbollah’s role inside Syria raises fundamental questions about its identity and purpose. Is it really a “resistance” organization, dedicated only to fighting Israel? Siding with the Assad government has already left Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah alone in the Arab world.
- 29-Jan-13: What their view on Hezbollah tells us about Europe's counter-terrorism strategy
- 9-Feb-13: Hezbollah and Europe: Decisions need to be made as if people's lives were on the line
- 5-Feb-13: Now that the Bulgarians have fingered Hezbollah, what happens next in Europe?