On July 22 European Union officials have listed the military wing of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on the EU’s terror list.
The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans said: ‘We took this important step today, by dealing with the military wing of Hezbollah, freezing its assets, hindering its fundraising and thereby limiting its capacity to act.’
The decision of the EU comes after pressure from Great-Britain, France and the Netherlands to put the Shia Muslim group’s armed wing on the bloc’s terrorism list, citing evidence that it was behind a deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria last year. The bombing targeting tourists from Israel left seven people dead. Hezbollah denied any involvement in the attack, but Bulgarian investigators say they are sure that the group was behind it.
Some EU members have been reluctant listing the militant group to the terrorist list because of Hezbollah’s deep involvement in Lebanese politics, adding to fear that the move might further destabilize Lebanon and the region.
Lebanon is already experiencing tension due to the split in attitudes towards the military conflict in neighboring Syria. While Hezbollah backs President Bashar al Assad’s Shia government by sending troops to help the Syrian army, some Sunni forces in Lebanon support the (mainly) Sunni rebels in Syria.
A few EU members fear sanctions against Hezbollah would radicalize the organization, both hurting the EU’s relationship with Lebanon and building up pressure in the country.