Thursday, February 07, 2013

The EU must now proscribe Hezbollah

From The Times (UK), 6 Feb 2013:
Hezbollah murdered Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. The EU must now proscribe it.
On July 18 last year, at a holiday airport in the European Union, a man with a hidden bomb climbed aboard a bus full of tourists and blew himself up. Five holidaymakers were killed as well as the driver. It is fair to assume that whoever organised this attack saw it as a success, but would have been made even happier had the death toll been greater.
The airport was Burgas in Bulgaria; the tourists were Israelis. And, according to a report issued by the Bulgarian Government yesterday, the attack was carried out by members of the “military wing” of the Lebanese extremist party Hezbollah, using false Australian and Canadian passports.
There is in the West something of a debate on how to understand Hezbollah. While the Israelis and the Americans are in no doubt that it is, in its entirety, an organisation that sponsors terrorism and violence both in Lebanon and abroad, others — notably in the European Union — take what they believe is a more nuanced view. Hezbollah, with its base in the Shia Muslim communities in Lebanon, is part of the current Government and runs a significant slice of Beirut and the Bekaa Valley. It retains the affections of its supporters in part by having replaced the State in the provision of public services and the maintenance of social order. It also keeps and trains an armed militia that represents a constant and potent threat to the Lebanese state’s own army and police force.
The temptation to depict Hezbollah as a kind of armed charity — the AK-toting linchpin of Lebanon’s own Big Society — is partly based on the problem that it is hard to imagine a stable Lebanon being created without its agreement. So countries such as France have held out against the EU declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organisation and proscribing contact with it. They believe that it is better for Lebanon and for the region if somehow Hezbollah can be involved in discussions that may, over time, lead to a softening of its hardline anti-Israeli stance.
Alas, a terrorist organisation is what Hezbollah is and has always been. Nearly 20 years ago it and its Iranian allies were involved in the worst anti-Jewish atrocities in recent history when first the Israeli Embassy and then a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires were bombed. Hezbollah has declared itself to be irreconcilable to the existence of the state of Israel and committed to attacks on Israelis anywhere in the world. Locally it has acted as a proxy for both the Syrian and Iranian regimes, receiving money and weapons from both in return for favours, such as its complicity in the assassination of the anti-Syrian former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, in 2005.
Hezbollah continues to violate every international law. Today it doubtless plans new attacks of the Burgas variety — in which British citizens could easily be the next to die — while intervening in the Syrian civil war on the side of the tyrant Assad.
There will always be an argument for leaving open channels of communication to organisations such as this. But in the wake of the Bulgarian report revealing who was responsible for murdering the Israeli visitors to Bulgaria, there can surely be no more hesitation by the European Union in declaring Hezbollah to be a murderous gang to whom the message must be clear: you can make peace or you can make war, but you cannot do both.

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