US lawmakers call on EU to label entire Hezbollah a terrorist organization
Bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate on Friday issued a call for the European Union to designate all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization and ban its activities on the continent.
In a letter led by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) as well as Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), lawmakers urged the bloc to adopt the terrorist designation for Hezbollah’s political arm in addition to its military wing.
“The United States remains dedicated to combating global terrorism and its enablers, and we encourage our allies and partners to join in this effort,” the lawmakers wrote. “To build on these efforts, we strongly urge the EU to designate the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.”
The EU in 2013 designated Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization but allows activities by its political arm.
In April, Germany became the latest country to apply the terrorist designation to Hezbollah’s political arm in addition to its military wing, joining nations like Canada and the U.K., as well as countries in South America including Paraguay and Argentina.
Hezbollah is an Iran-backed, Lebanese political and military group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization since 1997. It plays a significant role in the Lebanese government, but has seen its influence weaken amid political unrest in the country, an economic crisis and its financial backing by Iran under immense strain from U.S. sanctions.
The lawmakers argued that allowing Hezbollah political activities to continue allows the organization to fundraise and finance terrorist activities.
“Unfortunately, Hezbollah has increasingly used Europe as a launching pad for its criminal and terrorist activities, including money laundering, drug smuggling, recruitment, and training,” the lawmakers wrote.
“In particular, Hezbollah’s fundraising and illicit business activities have generated additional annual revenue which the organization uses to support its global terrorism,” they continued, pointing to an attack in 2012 linked to the group in Bulgaria that targeted Israeli tourists, killing six including their Bulgarian driver.
“We also continue to welcome action by individual member states to enact a formal terror designation of Hezbollah in its entirety and ban its activities within their borders,” they wrote.
The letter was sent to the Delegation of the European Union, located in Washington, D.C. A spokesperson for the European Union said they are aware of the letter and said the political wing of Hezbollah is “inevitable part of Lebanese political landscape.”
“Given the complexity of the political balance between communities in Lebanon and the overall fragile situation in the region, the EU remains convinced that engaging in a constructive dialogue with all political parties present in the country remains key to the stability of Lebanon and essential not only for the security of Europe but also for the Middle East,” the spokesperson said. “The EU will continue to work with the whole Government of Lebanon.”