US ambassador urges the European Union to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization
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The US government’s most important European ambassador on Wednesday urged the EU to designate the entire Hezbollah movement a terrorist entity.
Writing an opinion article for Politico, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said “The European Union should follow the German parliament’s lead and recognize Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.”
The ambassador told The Jerusalem Post that “I am hopeful that there will be a draft European Parliament resolution calling for the ban of Hezbollah. The German government’s action on the issue has been a huge step forward in Europe.”
The US embassy tweeted on Wednesday about Grenell’s meeting with members of the European parliament. “Today we met with David McAllister and several other German members of the @Europarl_EN [European Parliament] to strategize how Europe can take action to designate Hizballah a terrorist organization.”
Grenell noted in Politico article that “In one of its last acts of 2019, the German parliament called on the government to ban Hezbollah. Recent developments show the government is ready to act, using available legal tools to deny the Iranian terror proxy the ability to plan, recruit and raise funds on German soil.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration has not proscribed Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The Post has previously reported–based on intelligence reports–that 1,050 Hezbollah members and supporters operate within German territory. The Hezbollah operatives raise funds, recruit new members and spread antisemitic and terrorist ideologies.
Grenell said Hezbollah “ flouts the rule of law, raising hundreds of millions of dollars in financing per year through criminal networks and transnational money laundering schemes originating in or transiting Europe. An EU-wide designation of Hezbollah is necessary to deny it the vast European recruiting and fundraising networks it needs to survive.”
Grenell wrote that the Bundestag’s “action comes in the wake of continued paralysis in Brussels, where some member countries still argue for Hezbollah’s legitimacy due to its political role in Lebanon. The EU thus maintains an artificial distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘political wing’ and ‘military wing,’ a division the terror group itself does not recognize. The EU’s stated intent for creating this false distinction is to preserve an open channel with Hezbollah and its representatives in the Lebanese government.”
The ambassador added that “The facts belie the EU’s stance. Hezbollah works for the Iranian regime, not the Lebanese people, who have protested against Iran’s influence in their country since October. It contributes to the 400,000-plus death toll in Syria, and remains dedicated to the extermination of Israel. It has planned and executed terrorist attacks on European soil.“
The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are the only two European countries who have outlawed Hezbollah’s entire organization. The Arab League, the US, Israel, Columbia, and Honduras are some of the countries that classify Hezbollah a full-blown terrorist movement.
The Post learned last year that Grenell raises a full ban of Hezbollah in every meeting with German officials.
The efforts by the US ambassador to push the Europeans to classify Hezbollah a terrorist organization are unprecedented in the history of US diplomacy on the Continent.
Grenell sought to debunk the standard EU argument that if Hezbollah is banned, EU-Lebanon diplomatic relations could not function. He wrote that “This designation would not deprive Brussels of its open channel to the Lebanese government. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and others each recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and each maintains a robust relationship with Lebanon.”
Grenell wrote that “On January 10, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting revenue used by the Iranian regime to fund and support its terrorist proxy networks. The US imposed additional sanctions against broad sectors of the Iranian economy, including construction, manufacturing, and mining, to further deny funding to terrorist groups that threaten the US, Europe and our partners in the Middle East.”
“As a result, Hezbollah is under enormous financial pressure. The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has called on his supporters to make an unprecedented increase in ‘charitable’donations to pay for fighters perpetuating violence in the Levant, wrote Grenell.
The envoy continued that” But in the meantime, Hezbollah’s coercive influence over Lebanon’s financial sector, and its operational freedom within the European Union, allow it access to the revenue it needs to weather the storm of sanctions.”
He concluded his article by stating that the “US is resolute in its efforts to stop the spread of Hezbollah’s terror, but we cannot contain the threat on our own. As with similar challenges, the US requires the support of its European allies.
If the EU wants to take a stand against the Assad regime’s violence in Syria and the export of that violence and instability to Europe, it should follow the German parliament’s lead, and designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.”