Sanctioning Hezbollah, but which Hezbollah?

Published on 23 July 2013 at 15:13

The European Union's foreign affairs ministers decided, on July 22, to include the armed wing of the Hezbollah on the EU list of terrorist organisations.

German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung strongly endorses the decision, saying

This is a strong signal. As of now, the EU is firmly opposed to terrorists, calls them by name, condemns them and makes their lives as difficult as possible. This does not keep the EU from maintaining a dialogue with the political branch of Hezbollah [...] because it would be foolish to ignore that the [Shiite organisation] remains a major political player, needed in the Mid-East.

However, The Times rejects any suggestion that the political wing of the Lebanese organisation should be thought of as distinct from paramilitary wing. The daily writes –

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It is a welcome proscription that should be extended to all of Hezbollah’s operations. It is implausible to believe that Hezbollah’s political organisation is sealed from its terrorist wing. These are one entity, not two. Hezbollah comprises a murder gang and a public relations front. [...] It is commendable to seek to dissuade Hezbollah from terrorism and integrate it into the political processes of Lebanon and negotiations with Israel. But this will not happen until the choice of terrorism or constitutionality is forced on it. The EU has taken an important step in impressing upon a terrorist organisation that its current strategy will fail and the choice must be made.

As for French daily Le Monde it deems the EU position "paradoxical", "as if a measure concerning Lebanon compensates for the absence of policy regarding Syria". It writes –

One imagines that the Europeans thus wanted to address a message to several recipients. But it is difficult not to see it as a relatively impotent position. Or at least a symbolic gesture showing the discomfort of the Europeans towards the Syrian tragedy (...) But this will not change the course of events neither in Lebanon nor in Syria which is the theatre of an enormous calamity to which Europe is assisting somewhat helplessly.

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