Gulf Countries Take Action on Hezbollah, EU Wavers
by Steven Emerson
The United States and Israel have long called for the international community and the European Union (EU) to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The past couple have years have witnessed a sharp rise in Hizballah-planned terrorist plots throughout the world under Iranian direction. The United States even warned European governments of Hezbollah’s intentions months before a series of terrorist attacks last summer.
But weeks after diplomats expressed confidence the EU finally would act, new hesitation is surfacing. Despite a Bulgarian government probe concluded that Hezbollah was responsible for the bus bombing that killed five Israelis and their driver in that country, some EU countries are balking, saying the evidence is insufficient. In addition, they fear a terror designation could be politically destabilizing and diminish their influence in Lebanon.
But the Sunni-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council isn’t as tentative. Given Hezbollah’s increasing prominence fighting against rebels in the Syrian civil war, the Council has decided to explore options with respect to hindering Hizballah’s interests in member states.
“It is a terrorist organisation and this is how Gulf states see it,” said Bahraini Foreign Affairs Minister Ghanim al-Buainain.
Bahrain has already designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The predominately Sunni Gulf Arab countries are taking action against the Shi’ite group mainly due to the sectarian nature characterizing the Syrian civil war and the fear that Hezbollah aims to destabilize the Gulf states to advance Iran’s hegemonic agenda. Iran, Hezbollah’s patron, has been accused of fomenting domestic strife within Bahrain.
As key Arab countries take concrete steps to label Hizballah for what it is, major Western nations continue to avoid the right decision for political considerations. No matter what some European governments think, the overwhelming evidence confirms that Hezbollah is a quintessential terrorist organization and should be regarded as such.