French MP demands that France should designate Hezbollah as terrorist group
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French-Israeli member of the French National Assembly, Meyer Habib, categorically stated that France “must” designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization, via his social media channels on Monday.
The call comes on the backdrop of the explosion that detonated more than 2,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, devastating Beirut and triggering public outrage – resulting in the deaths of at least 163 people, the injuries of more than 6,000 and the destruction of swathes of the Mediterranean capital.
Habib penned the letter to French President Emmanuel Macron a year ago, requesting that the French leader denounces the organization and designates the movement as a terrorist entity.
Following the public outcry and outrage from the Lebanese people – who Habib adds, “say it loud and clear,” that the disaster was a direct result of the heavily armed Iran-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah movement’s grip over the country – Habib decided to revamp his position and resend the letter.
“My letter recalls the facts, all the facts, including that Hezbollah has a lot of French blood on its hands and that our country was even one of the first victims,” Habib said on Facebook.
He said that with regard to the letter, Macron gave him a courteous but evasive answer, “dodging the heart of the subject.”
Therefore, he is now reiterating his request to the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee, “France must declare Hezbollah terrorist organization and remove the artificial distinction between armed and political branch, like Germany!”
Following Macron’s visit to Beirut hours after the blast, the French president told US President Donald Trump that the US sanctions targeting Iran-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah are playing into the hands of those they are meant to weaken, including Iran, an Élysée official said on Saturday.
Washington has sought to choke off Hezbollah’s funding worldwide, with sanctions among a slew of steps against Tehran since Trump withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. Oil-rich Gulf Arab states, which have long channeled funds into Lebanon’s fragile economy, had refrained this time from providing financial assistance, alarmed by the rising influence of Hezbollah.
“He told him that in the case of Lebanon, the fact is that the policy of pressure or abstention from the United States and some Gulf countries could actually play into the hands of those they are targeting, Iran and Hezbollah,” the official said.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah praised solidarity and aid pouring in from around the world, including the visit by Macron. He said this presented an opportunity for Lebanon, already deep in financial crisis.
The same Hezbollah leader threatened in the past to destroy Israel by causing a massive explosion in the port of Haifa using ammonia tanks that he said would be like a “nuclear” explosion, the same chemicals that ignited the Beirut blast.
“In the interest of the Lebanese people, to allow them to reopen the reins of their collective destiny, it is the most concrete, bravest and strongest gesture” to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization, Habib concluded.
If France were to move forward with placing the terrorist distinction on Iran-aligned Hezbollah it would join the list of more than a dozen countries and groups of nations that have done the same – including Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Arab League and the European Union.