Punishing Hezbollah: Gulf States Follow in EU’s Footsteps
By: Nasser Charara
Published Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The European Union’s decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s “military wing” was made after intense pressure from both the US and Saudi Arabia to punish the Resistance for its involvement in the Syrian crisis.
European sources report that the US, along with Saudi Arabia, had a major role to play in pressuring the EU to place Hezbollah’s military wing on their list of terrorist organizations.
The difficult process leading up to the decision indicates that the conclusion reached by the European foreign ministers was a compromise between US demands to blacklist the party as a whole – and not just its “military wing” – and a European attempt to wiggle out of such a step altogether.
Diplomatic sources who followed the deliberations suggest that the decision was made reluctantly after repeated interventions on the part of Washington, who wanted to punish Hezbollah for fighting alongside the Syrian armed forces in the decisive battle of Qusayr.
From the outset, the European ministers seemed unconvinced that there was enough evidence to suggest that Hezbollah committed an act of terror on their territories, which would have provided the legal basis for such a decision. Attempts to connect the Lebanese party to the 2012 Burgas bombing in Bulgaria resulted in failure, despite relentless American and Israeli pressures on the country’s authorities.
A European ambassador explains that the committee charged with assessing security risks such as the Burgas bombing did not discuss taking any action against the Resistance for two important reasons.
First, the investigation was still underway, and Bulgaria had only requested that the European countries take “limited measures” to prevent a similar attack, not to blacklist Hezbollah. And second, the ministers were concerned about the impact of any action against Hezbollah on Lebanon’s internal stability.
As the time of reckoning approached, the Europeans were facing one of three choices: towing Washington’s line and blacklisting Hezbollah, without distinguishing between its various wings; a compromise position of naming Hezbollah’s military wing; and simply naming the individual implicated in the bombing and listing them as terrorists.
For a short time, the ministers were leaning in the direction of the last option until the US and Israel pulled out all the stops, only to arrive at the compromise position.
Diplomatic sources who closely followed the proceedings explain that Washington made it clear to the Europeans – before and after Qusayr – that Hezbollah had overstepped its bounds and must be sent a clear message that its actions will have consequences. The sources further indicate that the Gulf Cooperation Council may soon follow in the footsteps of the Europeans to bring more yet more pressure on the Lebanese Resistance party.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.