Who are the Terrorists?
Britain asked the European Union on Tuesday (21 May) to put Hezbollah’s military arm on its list of terrorist organisations, urging Europe to respond robustly to evidence of the Islamist group’s involvement in a July 2012 bomb attack in Bulgaria.
By Adam Walker
Britain’s request came after Bulgaria accused the Lebanese militant movement in February of carrying out a bomb attack on a bus in the Black Sea city of Burgas that killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver in July last year.
Britain also cited a four-year jail sentence handed down by a Cypriot court in March to a Hezbollah member accused of plotting to attack Israeli interests on the island.
There is growing concern in the West about Iranian-backed Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, although British sources denied this had prompted its request.
Britain’s request will be discussed in early June by a special EU working group but it is likely to be difficult for Britain to convince all EU member states to support the proposal and achieve the required unanimity.
“We are calling for Europe to respond collectively and robustly following the atrocious terrorist attack at Burgas airport … We firmly believe that an appropriate EU response would be to designate Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation,” a spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office said.
Putting Hezbollah’s military arm on the EU’s terror list would make it harder for the group to operate in Europe and would help prevent “any future attacks by this terrorist organisation on European soil,” the spokesman said.
Britain’s move came as Hezbollah guerrillas fought their biggest battle yet for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. About 30 Hezbollah fighters were killed on Sunday, Syrian activists said, along with 20 Syrian troops and militiamen loyal to Assad during fierce fighting in the rebel stronghold of Qusair, near the Lebanese border.
Pressure from US, Israel
The United States already lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation and US and Israeli authorities want the EU to do likewise. But many European governments are cautious about imposing sanctions on Hezbollah, arguing it could fuel tensions in the Middle East.
In Europe, only the Netherlands lists Hezbollah as a terrorist group, while Britain blacklists its military wing.
Bulgaria presented the results of its bomb probe to EU foreign ministers on 18 February, urging them to take a harder stance towards Hezbollah. But two days later, Bulgaria’s government resigned after mass protests over an economic crisis.
Hezbollah has dismissed Bulgaria’s accusations and accused Israel of waging a smear campaign against it.
Marin Raikov, Bulgaria’s interim prime minister, said Bulgaria would not initiate the EU procedure for blacklisting Hezbollah. But any other EU government was free to do so.
Raikov said in March that some EU countries were “not sufficiently convinced” by the evidence Bulgaria had presented about Hezbollah’s involvement in the bombing and pledged to provide more evidence.
The Bulgarian foreign ministry declined immediate comment on the British proposal on Tuesday.
Of course, if our masters in Westminster weren’t sticking their noses in at other peoples business and if they were concentrating their efforts on making our country a better place in which to live then they wouldn’t have to label anyone terrorists because their actions wouldn’t concern us.
It makes one wonder who will be next to have the terrorist label applied. Given the past disastrous decisions of our politicians when they have invaded countries illegally, killing millions of innocent civilians, perhaps the finger should point inward and it should be them that are facing long prison sentences.