Brazil could designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization

Brazil considering designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization as part of President Bolsonaro’s efforts to strengthen ties with Trump.

Elad Benari ,

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil is considering designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, following in the footsteps of Argentina and Paraguay, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

According to the report, officials are reviewing their options to move forward with the idea, which is being discussed at the highest levels of government but does not have across-the-board support, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The idea would not be easily implemented due to the particularities of Brazilian law, added the officials, requesting anonymity because the discussion isn’t public.

The idea is part of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s efforts to forge stronger ties with US President Donald Trump, with whom he also seeks a trade deal. It also fits into the world-view of Brazil’s right-wing president and his inner-circle.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, who may become the Brazilian ambassador to the US, already advocated a strong stance against Hezbollah, and Hamas, noted Bloomberg.

The move could strain relations with Iran, a Hezbollah ally which imports $2.5 billion of Brazilian products per year, and displease Brazil’s influential Lebanese community. The government also worries it could make the country a target of terrorism, said one of the sources.

A decision could be announced before Bolsonaro visits in October the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two countries strongly opposed to Hezbollah.

Contacted by Bloomberg, Brazil’s foreign ministry said it doesn’t consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization and has no plans to change its status for now. The president’s office, the justice ministry and the federal police, responsible for enforcement of anti-terror laws, declined to comment.

The report comes on the day that Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez designated both Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations, a move welcomed by Israel.

Argentina last month officially designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and ordered the freezing of its assets in the country.

In 2013, the European Union blacklisted Hezbollah's “military wing” as a terrorist organization, while failing to blacklist the group’s political arm.

However, EU members the Netherlands and United Kingdom consider all of Hezbollah a terrorist entity, as do the United States, Canada, Israel and even the Arab League.

The British government formally announced in February that it intends to ban the political wing of the Hezbollah terror organization, after previously having banned its military wing.