Tuesday

17th Sep 2019

Britain files request for EU sanctions on Hezbollah

  • French protester holds poster of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (Photo: looking4poetry)

The UK has asked EU countries to designate the military wing of Lebanese group Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.

A British foreign ministry spokesman told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday (21 May): "We are calling for Europe to respond collectively and robustly 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."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He added that it would help to stop "future attacks ... on European soil."

Bulgaria in February said the preliminary results of its investigation into a bomb blast in Burgas, on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, in July last year indicated that Hezbollah organised the strike.

It killed five Israeli tourists and a local bus driver and injured 32 other people.

Cyprus in March also jailed a Lebanese-Swedish man on charges of scouting Israeli targets for another attack by the group.

Its support for the Syrian regime has further blackened its name.

Up to 6,000 Hezbollah fighters are said to be in Damascus, where they guard the Sayyidah Zaynab mosque, and in the Syrian towns of Homs and Qusayr near the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Counter-terrorism specialists from EU countries will consider the British request, made last week, at a meeting in Brussels on 4 June.

If all 27 states agree, it will become illegal for Hezbollah sympathisers in Europe to send it money and for EU governments or diplomats to meet its military staff.

The UK already listed Hezbollah's military wing in 2008. The Netherlands listed the whole group in 2004.

Germany has also voiced support for an EU-level designation.

But France, the former colonial power in Lebanon, has voiced opposition.

The French fear the move could destabilise Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a leading political party and a popular source of welfare.

It could also ingrain the image of Europe as pandering to US-Israeli interests because many Arabs admire Hezbollah as the only force capable of hurting the Israeli army.

Meanwhile, Italy, which contributes a large continent to a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, has voiced concern about revenge attacks.

For its part, the US said on Tuesday the EU should follow the Dutch model by listing the whole group.

"Hezbollah's numerous branches and subsidiaries share common funding, personnel and leadership, all of which support the group's violent actions," state department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told AFP.

British foreign minister William Hague also on Tuesday told his national parliament the UK will urge EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels next Monday to relax a ban on arming Syrian rebels.

He said the move would increase pressure for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to negotiate.

"The EU should give strong support to this diplomatic process, including by agreeing further amendments to the arms embargo, without taking any decisions at present to send arms to the Syrian opposition," he noted.

The UK has so far this year shipped €14 million of "non-lethal" kit to rebel forces.

The material includes armoured jeeps, body armour, trucks and forklifts, solar power generators, water purification kits, equipment to search for survivors in bombed out buildings, computers, satellite phones and office equipment.

Put Hezbollah on EU terror list, Israeli President says

Israeli President Shimon Peres has urged the EU to put Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organisations, claiming that failure to do so would be an indication that the EU was prepared to tolerate its actions.

News in Brief

  1. Apple and Ireland appeal €13bn EU tax ruling
  2. UK PM should provide witness statement, court told
  3. Italy's ex-PM Renzi quits ruling Democratic Party
  4. German top lawmaker scolds Bettel over Johnson snub
  5. Greens decide on Tuesday on talks on Five Star joining
  6. Belgian mayors give Juncker a tongue-lashing
  7. Von der Leyen defends 'way of life' slogan
  8. Court hears case on UK's pre-Brexit parliament shutdown

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs
  2. Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing
  3. Trumpworld In Europe
  4. How EU firms and banks help fund Amazon fires
  5. Amazon fires mean EP must rethink Mercosur trade deal
  6. EU must give full support to Ukraine to dissuade Kremlin
  7. EU divided on how to protect rule of law
  8. Nordic region to become world's most sustainable and integrated

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us