Days after the Gulf Cooperation Council stated that Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation, two members of US Congress urged the European Union to follow path and designate the Lebanese Shiite group as terrorist.
In a letter addressed to EU Ambassador in Washington David O’Sullivan, U.S. Representatives Grace Meng (Democrat from New York) and Peter Roskam (Republican from Illinois) pointed out that so far the EU labeled Hezbollah’s military arm a terrorist organisation, without doing the same for its political wing.
The Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, didn’t make any distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings.
“While the 2013 EU designation of Hezbollah’s military wing was a step in the right direction, distinguishing between Hezbollah’s military and political arms is a distinction without a difference,” Meng and Roskam wrote.
“Hezbollah can easily transfer money within its organization, rendering EU attempts to effectively sanction its terrorist activities meaningless. The entire organization is implicated in Hezbollah’s nefarious activities,” added the US representatives.
“The European Union is a vital partner to the United States in addressing global issues,” they said. “Given our collective importance to the global financial system, a unified approach to countering terrorist financing would be a formidable obstacle for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. We urge the European Union to immediately designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and work to oppose their global terrorist ambitions.”
Meng serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Subcommittee on the Middle East. Roskam is chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus.
They wrote that Hezbollah is “deeply committed to working with Iran to prop up the murderous Assad regime in Syria. Hezbollah is also in possession of approximately 150,000 rockets and missiles, some of which are capable of precision targeting nearly anywhere in Israel.”
Citing Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s boast that rocket attacks will “lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of inhabitants,” the two members of Congress said that “we are inching closer to another Hezbollah-initiated war against Israel that would be disastrous for all involved.”
Top Israeli officials have confirmed that Hezbollah continues to be one of the country’s top security threats. “Iran is waging a war against Israel via proxies like Hezbollah in Lebanon, who today poses the most serious threat to Israel,” said Israeli army chief Gadi Eizenkot.
Hezbollah possesses large military arsenal
Hezbollah is de facto the ruler of southern Lebanon, where is possesses a large military arsenal.
Hezbollah has also planned and launched attacks on Israeli citizens across the world, most brutally a bus bomb in the Bulgarian resort of Burgas which killed five Israeli tourists in 2012. Since then, Cypriot authorities have apprehended and sentenced two Hezbollah operatives planning attacks against Israelis on the island.
The Deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards said last week that Israel’s “collapse” was near and that it had ten times more missiles than Hezbollah’s 100,000.
“The Zionist regime will collapse in the near future. When Hezbollah has stockpiled over 100,000 missiles, it means Iran has tens of times more than that. Iran is in possession of different classes of missiles, and this power is unstoppable,” said Brigadier General Hossein Salami, Fars News Agency reported.
“We have a large stockpile of ballistic missiles in different ranges. They are ready to hit enemies and targets from different parts of the country,” he said.
Hezbollah today boasts 41,000 fighters in both conscripts and the reserves. Many of them have gained combat experience in Syria. Hezbollah also has more firepower at its disposal than 95 percent of regular militaries in the world.
The Gulf Cooperation Council states explained that they declared Hezbollah as a terror organisation because the group was recruiting terrorists and smuggling weapons within their borders.
‘More Arab countries understand Israel’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Gulf states, hours after two Arab parties in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, Balad and Hadash, condemned the decision because, for among other reasons, it is good for Israel.
Addressing the Knesset’s plenary in a speech about foreign policy, Netanyahu described the decision as “very important and even amazing,” but added that “what is equally amazing is that two parties in the Knesset criticized it.”
He noted that Hezbollah’s missiles do not distinguish between Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens.
“Will you continue criticizing them when Hezbollah shoots rockets at your villages? Do they differentiate between blood and blood? Hezbollah wants to destroy the country, and you’re in the country. Have you gone crazy? Excuse my expression,” he said.
Netanyahu also pointed to changes in the Arab world, which demonstrate that more countries in the Middle East understand that Israel is not their enemy and stands with them in the fight against Iran and Islamic State, “even if the changes haven’t reached certain parts of the Knesset.”
The changes in the Arab world “have great potential to change the diplomatic reality in the region. They give hope for a better future for all nations in the Middle East. I hope these ties will help advance our relations with the Palestinians, or at least the Palestinians who want to live with us in peace,” Netanyahu said.