The European Union came together on July 22, 2013 to form a political agreement, listing the military wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. CNN’s article, “EU Putting Hezbollah Military Wing On Terror List,” explains the EU’s clear message for a “stand against terrorism.”
Hezbollah emerged in 1982 after Israel invaded Lebanon in search of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Lebanese-Shiite group first gained the world’s attention after bombing the United States Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the group conducted numerous kidnappings, airplane hijackings, and bombings. In 1997, after a large amount of bloodshed, Hezbollah became one of the first groups to be added to the United States State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.
While Israel and the United States already recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, incidents that occurred in Bulgaria and Cyprus aided the EU in making their recent decision. There is evidence of Hezbollah’s involvement in the terror attack that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver last year and earlier this year, a court in Cyprus found a member of the Hezbollah military guilty of planning an attack on Israel. Additionally, Hezbollah’s fighters have also chosen to side with President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s on-going civil war.
Rather than recognize the entire group of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, the EU is focusing their designation on the military component of the group. Critics believe that this approach will not be as “effective or practical” as targeting the entity as a whole. However, UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, believes the agreement sends a clear message on the EU’s stand against terrorism. He also stated that the agreement shows no organization can execute acts of terror on European soil and proceed without consequences.
The announcement came shortly after a previous decision by the EU to ban funding to Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and amidst attempts to re-engage in peace negotiations in the Middle East. The EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton stated that the EU is “deeply committed” to peace negotiations within the Middle East.
Summary by Elizabeth Haggart, Dickinson College (WAC Charlotte Intern – Summer 2013)