It’s Past Time for Europe to Take Action against Hizballah

Clinging to an artificial distinction rejected by the U.S., the UK, and several of its own member states, the European Union considers Hizballah’s “military wing” a terrorist group, but not its “political wing.” Not only is the Iran-backed organization responsible for countless acts of terror, it also has slaughtered civilians in Syria, helped to bring about Lebanon’s current political and financial meltdown, and has tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel. Hans-Jakob Schindler argues that Brussels should be taking a different approach:

Beyond the instability and chaos Hizballah brings to the Middle East, it also has the potential to cause untold damage much closer to home. Should Hizballah be allowed to continue to consolidate its power, Lebanon could eventually become something long coveted by Iran: a forward base on the Mediterranean from which it can even more directly threaten Europe and its allies.

The organization is already present in a number of European countries. It uses the continent as a base for operations and recruitment, with more than 1,000 active members reportedly in Germany alone. Hizballah’s bases in Europe are also a central part of its global illicit-financing network. This includes the transportation and distribution of illegal drugs, the arms trade, and a professional money-laundering operation that [also serves] other criminal organizations.

Finally, as convictions in Cyprus in 2015 demonstrated, Hizballah uses European soil to store some of its terrorist supplies. The case in Cyprus involved the illegal storage of nearly nine tons of ammonium nitrate that were to be used by Hizballah operatives for bomb attacks in the country.

Hizballah has also not given up on its deadly operations in Europe. The group has been responsible for a number of major terrorist acts in the EU since the 1980s. As recently as 2012, a Hizballah bomb in Burgas, Bulgaria killed six civilians within EU borders, [in an attack on Israeli tourists]. This tragic event was what forced Europe to recognize Hezbollah’s military wing—if not the rest of the outfit—as a terrorist organization.

Read more at Euronews

More about: European Union, Hizballah, Terrorism


Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden