US welcomes Estonian sanctions on Lebanon’s Hezbollah

The Baltic state designated the group as a terrorist organisation last week

FILE PHOTO: A Hezbollah flag and a poster depicting Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah are pictured along a street, near Sidon, Lebanon July 7, 2020. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho/File Photo
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The US welcomed Estonia's move to impose sanctions on Lebanon's Hezbollah and recognise the militant group as a terrorist organisation, after similar moves by Germany and Lithuania this year.

Estonia imposed sanctions on the Iran-aligned Shiite group last Thursday, becoming the fifth EU member state to designate Hezbollah this year. As well as a being a militia, Hezbollah also holds power within the Lebanese government.

"Hezbollah poses a significant threat to international – and therefore Estonian – security. With this move, Estonia faces the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Lithuania, as well as other countries to the side that have come to the conclusion that Hezbollah is using terrorist means and that it is a threat to the security of many states," said Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu.

The measures mean that Hezbollah affiliates believed to support terrorism are prohibited from entering the Baltic state.

US Secretary State Mike Pompeo welcomed Estonia’s decision.

"Estonia is sending a strong message in Europe, and within the European Union, by prohibiting Hezbollah affiliates from entering its territory, mitigating the threat Hezbollah poses to the security of Estonia and international partners," Mr Pompeo said on Saturday.

“Like the actions taken by Germany, Lithuania, and Kosovo, and the commitment by Serbia earlier this year, Estonia’s decisive action recognises that Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation in its entirety and poses a significant threat in Europe and elsewhere.

"We urge all countries to take whatever action they can to prevent Hezbollah operatives, recruiters and financiers from operating in their territories."

Israel's Foreign Ministry also welcomed Estonia's decision. The eastern European country, which serves as a UN Security Council member, joins Argentina, the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia and other countries that recognised Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

The EU recognises Hezbollah's military group as a terrorist organisation, but not its political faction.

Members of the European Parliament, national European parliaments and the US Congress and Senate have all called on the bloc to stop distinguishing between the two factions.

On Thursday, the US government announced a $10 million reward for information about a Hezbollah financing network to coincide with 37th anniversary of a bomb attack on a barracks for US marines in Beirut.

The US is seeking information on the activities, networks and associates of Hezbollah that form a part of its financial support. It pointed to three key financiers – Muhammad Qasir, Muhammad Qasim Al Bazzal and Ali Qasir.