Yesterday, the European Union finally reached the necessary consensus among its 28 member states to list Hezbollah’s “military wing” as a terrorist organization.
The decision comes after many months of impasse and indecision, the byproduct of the EU’s required unanimity coupled with a concern among some European nations that the move would further destabilize the region surrounding Syria. The listing, while tardy, is a step in the right direction. However, Europe should go further in listing the entire Hezbollah organization as a terrorist group, rather than make a false distinction between a “military” and a “political” wing.
Hezbollah’s terrorist activities on the European continent are numerous, including a horrific bus bombing attack a year ago in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver. In March, a Cypriot court sentenced a Hezbollah member to four years in prison for plotting attacks against Israeli targets in Cyprus. In Syria, Hezbollah’s activities have escalated the bloodshed, further raising tensions across the border in Lebanon and undermining Lebanese stability.
The EU’s move to list the military wing of Hezbollah is a positive step, but it doesn’t go far enough. As Heritage’s James Jay Carafano explains: “As long as the political arm is excluded, Europe won’t be able to shut down terrorist fund-raising and recruiting in its own backyard.”
The United States should work around the EU bureaucracy and pressure its European allies to list the entire Hezbollah organization as a terrorist organization, as is their prerogative as sovereign nation states. The Netherlands already does so; the rest of Europe should follow its lead. The U.S. has every reason to work with allies in Europe to turn off the fundraising capabilities of the group on the continent. Hezbollah has built a significant presence in Latin America, the U.S.’s own backyard.
In finally branding the military wing of Hezbollah for what it is, Europe has taken a big step in the right direction. Now it is time for our allies in Europe to list the remainder of Hezbollah and once and for all shut off the funds from Europe that help sustain the organization.