Washington Lobbies Europe to Join Its War on Hezbollah

US Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism John Brennan. (AFP - Jim Watson)

By: Omar Nashabe

Published Monday, October 29, 2012

Washington’s attempts to cultivate what it called “moderate Shias” as a counterbalance to Hezbollah, as revealed in Wikileaks documents, has failed, and now the US is ratcheting up pressure on its European allies to go after the Resistance movement.

This appeal was made by John Brennan, the US President’s Deputy National Security Advisor, during a visit he made to Dublin on Friday.

Speaking at the Institute of International and European Affairs, Brennan criticized what he called the “Failure” of many European countries, including Ireland, to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization, which, he said, “makes it harder to defend our countries and protect our citizens.”

He went on to say that the UK’s move to designate Hezbollah’s armed wing a terrorist group was “simply not enough,” and declared that Hezbollah “will continue to operate with impunity” unless the international community joins the United States in taking a more “proactive posture” by working together to “uncover its infrastructure and disrupt its networks.”

The senior US official stressed that failure by the European countries to take action against Hezbollah has complicated law enforcement efforts against Hezbollah suspects arrested “for plotting in Europe.”

Brennan also called on the European countries to hold Iran and Syria accountable for sponsoring Hezbollah, a statement which comes at the same time as American accusations that Hezbollah is supporting the regime in Syria in its war against the armed opposition and its backers.

Brennan is one of President Barack Obama’s top advisers. The US media covered his remarks extensively in the final stretch of the campaign leading up to the the US presidential elections. The remarks follow a presidential debate focused on foreign policy in which both candidates pledged staunch support for Israel.

Nevertheless, the appeal made to the European countries to back the US attack on Hezbollah also suggests that there has been a shift in the approach declared by Brennan.

In a 2010 speech he gave in Washington, the US official said: “What we need to do is find ways to diminish their [the hardline elements in Hezbollah] influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements.” He also said that Hezbollah was a “very interesting organization” that evolved from a “purely terrorist organization” to a militia with members serving in government and parliament.

Brennan went on to say that “Within Hezbollah, there's still a terrorist core. And hopefully those elements within the Shia community in Lebanon […] are going to continue to look at that extremist terrorist core as being something that is anathema to what they're trying to accomplish in terms of their aspirations about being part of the political process in Lebanon.”

Since that time, successive meetings have been held with “moderate Shias” in apartments in Beirut, its southern suburb and in a hotel in the Hamra area of Beirut, to discuss what they termed “Hezbollah’s dominance of the Shia community in Lebanon.” Some of the participants spoke in a sharp tone in the course of their attack on Hezbollah’s leadership.

John Brennan’s efforts to convince the European countries to designate Hezbollah a terrorist group have taken place in conjunction with similar efforts by Uri Rosenthal, the Dutch Foreign Minister.

Since he assumed his post in 2010, Rosenthal, who is very close to Israel, has sought to persuade the European Union, and particularly his counterparts in France and Germany, to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

Yet the Netherlands remains to this day the only European country that followed in the footsteps of the US and Israel, declaring all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization, while the UK has only applied that label to the group’s military wing.

John Brennan was a senior official in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) under former US President George W. Bush. In his present capacity as an adviser to Barack Obama, Brennan is part of the committee that determines which individuals Washington should target in its so-called “War on Terror.”

These individuals are often targeted in CIA special operations or by unmanned drones, often resulting in civilian casualties in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq.

In November 2008, President Obama sought to appoint Brennan as director of the CIA, before backing down due to Brennan’s support for so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) for terror suspects, and for their arbitrary and secret detention, often in undisclosed facilities.

At any rate, Obama, as he presses ahead with his re-election campaign, has stressed that EITs are illegal and immoral. He has stated that these techniques “make us more vulnerable to terrorism,” and has criticized their adoption by the Bush administration.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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