Bahrain Labels Hezbollah Terrorists, EU Dawdles
As we noted earlier this week, Hizballah’s alliance with dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s bloody civil war has left the Shia organization politically weakened.
Investigations also have found Hizballah responsible for a terrorist bombing in Bulgaria last year and for sending an operative to Cyprus to scout targets for attacks on Israeli tourists. But that has yet to be enough for the European Union (EU) to designate Hizballah a terrorist group.
The parliament in a Persian Gulf state, Bahrain, voted this week to do what the EU won’t. The terrorist designation is believed to be driven by sectarian factors – Bahrain’s ruling class is Sunni, but its population is mostly Shia, the Times of Israel reports. Bahraini officials blame Hizballah for stoking anti-government protests since the Arab Spring began. But they also blame Hizballah for bombings last fall in the capital Manama that killed two people.
President Obama called on the EU to designate Hizballah a terrorist group during last week’s trip to Israel. He cited the Bulgaria bombing, saying Israelis were targeted “because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to live and love and raise families. That’s why every country that values justice should call Hezbollah what it truly is: a terrorist organization.”
Hizballah replied by saying Obama “speaks like an employee of the Zionist entity [Israel].”
A Bulgarian investigation found Hizballah responsible for last July’s a bombing attack that killed five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver. Interim Bulgarian Prime Minister Marin Raykov said he won’t push the EU to designate Hizballah, but will release more information about the investigation.
“For Bulgaria it is of key importance to have a common position, to have a consensus on this [within the EU],” Raykov said. “We will continue the investigation … We will provide the needed evidence.”
Some EU countries indicated that they aren’t persuaded to act against Hizballah by existing Bulgarian information. Others have expressed concern that designating Hizballah would increase tension in the Middle East.
Under that standard, no evidence would prove sufficient. Coddling Hizballah has only allowed it to stockpile tens of thousands of missiles capable of striking the heart of Israel. Its forces are fighting in Syria and training forces to buck up a ruthless dictator. That, in turn, is stoking sectarian tension in Lebanon.
And its operatives continue to plot terror in Europe and elsewhere. Investigations tie Hizballah to plots and attacks on Israeli diplomatic officials in Asia and Europe starting in 2011.In addition to the Bulgarian investigation, a court in Cyprus last week convicted a Hizballah operative guilty on five charges relating to his work scouting travel patterns of Israeli tourists.
Hizballah paid Hossam Taleb Yaccoub for six missions in Cyprus between 2011 and his arrest last summer, just days before the Bulgarian attack. His mission echoed aspects of the Bulgarian bombing, including tracking Israeli flight schedules, identifying tour buses which carry Israelis and more.
This is not enough for the EU to act. It would be difficult to imagine writing this under other circumstances, but if only the Europeans could be as clear-eyed about terrorists as Bahrain.