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Dangerous Liaisons: Europe Should Cut Off Hezbollah

12:54 PM, Nov 19, 2012 • By ILANA DECKER
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The second is the contention that any move to designate Hezbollah might provoke the group into playing a destabilizing role in Lebanon; as if Hezbollah hasn’t already succeeded in this aim through maintenance of what is effectively a private army and “a state within a state” at odds with collective Lebanese self-interest; as if a diverse spectrum of Lebanese political leadership hasn’t repeatedly demanded Hezbollah’s disarming in recent years. Hezbollah’s decision last month to fly a drone over Israel was characterized by former Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora as “implicating Lebanon in regional and international struggles,” and by opposition leader Saad Hariri as “uncalculated adventures Hezbollah wants to drag Lebanon into.” The internal Lebanese situation has been further complicated by the killing of Lebanese intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan, a devastating attack which was almost certainly retaliation for his anti-Assad credentials and the role he played in implicating Damascus and Hezbollah in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, and in the arrest of a pro-Assad former minister working with Syria to plot terrorist attacks and sow sectarian chaos in Lebanon.  Indeed, many analysts suggest that Hassan’s assassination is the most significant event to rock the country since Hariri’s and threatens to raise the curtain on yet another devastating Lebanese civil war.

At a time when the disconnect has never been greater between the international community’s commitment to the “responsibility to protect,” and its feeble motions to prevent the continued butchering of the Syrian people, a bold EU move to formally brand Hezbollah what it is – a terrorist organization – should be a given.  Banning Hezbollah would deal an additional blow to the Iranian regime of which Hezbollah is a proxy, serve as a riposte to its violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding activity in Lebanon, send a message surrounding its role in the murder of Rafik Hariri, demonstrate a stand against an organization that has killed Americans, Israelis, Europeans, and Syrians, and denote the only appropriate response to terrorism carried out within Europe itself. Further, it would send a much-needed moral and material boost to the Syrian people, those bravely fighting and dying each day at the hands of a brutal regime.  In the frustrated and battle-weary words of the letter’s signatories, it’s the least the EU can do.  

Ilana Decker is the North America director of the Henry Jackson Society, a transatlantic think tank headquartered in the UK specializing in foreign and international security policy.

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