Why the EU Won’t Designate Hizballah a Terrorist Organization, and Why It Should

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.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: European Union, Hizballah, Lebanon

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy