Since 2012, the European Union has officially considered what it calls the “military wing” of the Iran-backed guerrilla organization Hizballah—responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians from Buenos Aires to Bulgaria—a terrorist group. Yet the EU insists that the group’s “political wing” is a distinct, and legal, entity. Daniel Schwammenthal argues that it’s time for Brussels to confront reality:
Hizballah’s own leaders have repeatedly dismissed the notion that theirs is an organization neatly bifurcated into separate wings. Instead, they proudly proclaim that they are one. Responding to the EU’s partial ban a decade ago, the Hizballah spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi repeated what other Hizballah leaders had said before: “Hizballah is a single, large organization. We have no wings that are separate from one another.”
The true reason that the EU hasn’t banned Hizballah’s so-called political arm is not because anyone really believes in Hizballah’s immaculate bifurcation. Rather, the argument is that Hizballah is a major player in Lebanese politics, and banning it would supposedly destabilize the country. Continuing the so-called “critical dialogue” with Hizballah is believed somehow to help maintain a level of order in the country.
[But] Hizballah is not a normal domestic player that can be reasoned with, moderated, or somehow stirred toward more responsible statecraft through just the right amount of “dialogue.” . . . Despite Europe’s continuing engagement, Hizballah’s very nature inevitably facilitated and contributed to the massive corruption that has brought Lebanon near to economic collapse. . . . Europe can’t stabilize Lebanon by continuing to legitimize the country’s main agent of instability.