Will They, Won't They?
British diplomats are reportedly succeeding in their efforts to convince other European leaders to support an EU-wide ban on Hizbullah.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) reported Thursday that a decision on the matter will be made as early as 22 July, following the British government's submission of "further information" to back its argument that Hizbullah's "military arm" should be blacklisted as a terrorist organisation.
The UK has stood at the forefront of efforts to outlaw the Iranian-backed group, but has faced opposition from other EU-member states, most crucially from France. The French government is reportedly hesitant to make any moves seen as interfering in the affairs of Lebanon, a former French colony.
Apart from its violent activities in the Middle East and abroad, the Shi'ite Islamist group is part of Lebanon's current government.
However, French opposition has apparently weakened in the face of mounting evidence concerning Hizbullah's role in international terrorism.
Two cases cited by Britain in its argument for a ban include the bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, in July 2012. In that incident, five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver were killed in an attack widely believed to have been carried out by Hezbollah.
Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said that the “additional evidence” strongly supports the claims that Hizbullah was behind that attack.
“There is no change in the Bulgarian stance on the act of terror in Sarafovo. My expert opinion, as I am acquainted with the conclusions and the facts, gathered up to now in the investigation, is that the announced stance of my colleagues is right and I port it,” he said.
The other case cited was the jailing of a Hizbullah operative accused of planning attacks on Israeli interests in Cyprus last March.
Opposition to the ban has also weakened given Hiizbullah's direct support of the Syrian regime, in its bloody push to end a 2 year rebellion. Hizbullah fighters provided vital support for government troops in capturing the strategically-important Quseir region in the west of the country, and are reportedly involved in current fighting around the rebel stronghold of Homs.
A British diplomat cited by the WJC claimed that, given all of these circumstances, "It's now the right time for the listing of Hizbullah's military wing to be discussed at a political level in the EU."
Anti-extremism groups hope that an EU-wide ban will deal a death-blow to the Iranian-backed terrorist group. Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbullah's Secretary General has previously remarked that a European ban would "destroy" the group because 'the sources of our funding will dry up and the sources of moral, political and material support will be destroyed."