“The blacklisting of Hezbollah is Israel forcing its way on the EU,” was the response from Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV to the European Union decision to add Hezbollah’s military wing to its list of terrorist organizations on Monday.
Al-Manar quoted European sources as saying that the EU's decision was based on a "cause of formality" in response to the terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria last year that killed five Israeli tourists and their local bus driver.
Hezbollah are alleging that the EU gave in to “Zionist American pressure in a dangerous way and took dictation from the White House,” adding, “It seems that this decision was written by an American hand with Zionist ink.”
Walid Sukariyeh, a pro-Hezbollah legislator, also claims that the decision was a result of American pressure and states that Hezbollah have not carried out any terror attacks in Europe or outside Europe. He defines Hezbollah as a “resistance movement that fought to liberate occupied land from the Israeli enemy.”
The idea of Hezbollah becoming a ‘resistance’ movement against Israel was solidified following Israel’s sudden withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. It’s ‘resistance,’ however, should not be confused with ‘deterrence,’ nor is it resistance to Israel alone. Hezbollah’s resistance ideology is firmly rooted in Islamic revolutionary doctrine, which has a global agenda.
Hezbollah started as an Iranian-backed militia group (it is still largely funded by Tehran) that evolved into a ‘nationalist resistance group’ in the 90’s, and finally morphed into the ‘mainstream political party’ (with a huge standing private army) that we know today. It was only in the 90’s when Hezbollah became ‘Lebanonized’ (began infiltrating and integrating into parliamentary democracy and political processes) that it managed to distance itself from international associations and reject its ‘terrorist’ label.
It was this artificial dichotomy of ‘Lebanization’ that kept Hezbollah off the EU’s blacklist for decades. But, as US Secretary of State John Kerry noted last week, this new move by Europe sends a strong message that “will have a significant impact on Hezbollah’s ability to operate freely in Europe by enabling European law enforcement agencies to crack down on Hezbollah’s fundraising, logistical activity, and terrorist plotting on European soil.”
The blacklisting will also impose visa bans and asset freezes on organizations in association with the group, though the implementation of these provisions will be more complicated due to the divisions in Hezbollah’s conceptual framework between military and political.
Currently the Board of Deputies of British Jews is pushing for Hezbollah’s political wing to be listed alongside the military wing as a terrorist organization, since the divisions within the group are ‘clearly artificial’. As William Hague stated, blacklisting just the military wing will not have serious adverse consequences or destabilize Hezbollah.