American and EU politicians demand Brussels Hezbollah ban

Chair of European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee among international figures backing open letter calling for ban of Iran-backed group in Lebanon

A supporter of Hezbollah carries his party flag during a protest against the visit of Commander of the US Army Central Command, Kenneth Franklin McKenzie to Lebanon at the highway of Rafic Hariri international airport in Beirut, Lebanon, 08 July 2020 EPA
A supporter of Hezbollah carries his party flag during a protest against the visit of Commander of the US Army Central Command, Kenneth Franklin McKenzie to Lebanon at the highway of Rafic Hariri international airport in Beirut, Lebanon, 08 July 2020 EPA

Hundreds of politicians, including EU parliamentarians and members of the United States Congress, have called in an open letter for Brussels to ban the Islamist militant group Hezbollah.

The letter, signed by 236 politicians from both sides of the Atlantic including the leader of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, David McAllister, and US Senator Ted Cruz, called on the EU to denounce the group and follow in the footsteps of other nations around the world.

It was addressed to the heads of the EU’s principal bodies: Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the commission, European Council President Charles Michel and European Parliament President David Sassoli, as well as the bloc's foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell.

The letter highlighted the Lebanese militant group’s links to Iran, calling Hezbollah Tehran’s “most violent proxy”.

“Hezbollah collaborates with the murderous Assad regime and is complicit in horrific war crimes that have killed, maimed and driven out millions of Syrians. The group trains and supplies weapons to Shiite militias in Yemen and Iraq,” the letter read.

It also said the distinction between a political and military wing of Hezbollah was false. Brussels placed a ban on Hezbollah’s military arm following a 2012 suicide bombing in Bulgaria that killed six people but the bloc did not impose sanctions on the group as a whole.

“We thus urge the EU to end this false distinction between ‘military’ and ‘political’ arms – a distinction Hezbollah itself dismisses – and ban the entire organisation,” the politicians said.

“As the examples of the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, the UK, the Gulf Co-operation Council and the Arab League show, proscribing Hezbollah doesn’t preclude continued political engagement with Beirut,” the letter added.

Published: July 17, 2020 06:33 PM

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