5th Mar 2024

EU to discuss blacklisting Hezbollah

  • The UK is leading a push to ban the militant wing of the Hezbollah group in the EU (Photo: looking4poetry)

EU foreign affairs ministers in Brussels on Monday (22 July) are set to discuss blacklisting the military wing of the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah.

Listing it as a terrorist organisation requires unanimous agreement by all 28 ministers.

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Sanctions could include possible travel and asset bans. EU officials and leaders would not be allowed contact with any of its members.

Hezbollah was established as an organisation in 1982 to spread the late Ayatollah Khomeini’s “Islamic Revolution” among Shiites in Lebanon and throughout the Arab region.

The group sees Europe as a base to help finance its activities.

Already banned in the Netherlands, the group also endures a number of restrictions elsewhere in the EU.

Broadcasts from its Al-Manar TV station are blocked in France, Germany, and Spain.

Bulgaria’s Minister of the Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov accused the group of a 2012 bomb attack on a bus in Burgas, which killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver.

Investigations into the attack are still ongoing, casting doubts on the evidence of the group’s involvement and Tsvetanov’s finger-pointing.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s open support of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and his brutal two-year campaign to stamp out rebel groups may have increased the pressure in Brussels to place them on the EU terrorist watch list.

The UK wants to separate the civil and military wing of the group and ban the latter.

The idea has gained the support of Germany and France.

But other member states express concerns a ban could undermine Lebanon’s fragile stability.

Along with the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy and Poland, Austria voiced concerns in June over British moves to put the group on the EU terrorist list.

Both Austria and Ireland have peacekeepers stationed at the Golan Heights and are concerned that a more radical Hezbollah would increase tensions in the region.

For its part, Lebanon says the ban could radicalise the movement and urged Brussels on Friday not to place it on its EU terrorist watch list.

It described the militant group as an "essential component of Lebanese society."

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