Friday 15 December 2017

Eamon Delaney: We should give full, not reluctant, support to EU's ban on Hezbollah

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah

The EU is finally putting on its blacklist the militant organisation Hezbollah, the dominant force in Lebanon and a growing force for instability in the entire Middle East.

Hezbollah has launched attacks on Israel, has intervened in the Syrian civil war and has been linked to a Bulgarian bus bombing last year. The EU had to send a message. "It is good that the EU has decided to call Hezbollah what it is: a terrorist organisation," said Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans. "By dealing with the military wing of Hezbollah and freezing its assets, we are hindering its fundraising and thereby limiting its capacity to act." This is quite in contrast with the Irish position, which was to oppose such a ban. Indeed, once again, Ireland showed its soft and often confused approach to dealing with such international security issues.

The rationale of Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore was that a ban on Hezbollah could create more instability and endanger Irish UN peacekeepers in the Lebanon, a strangely restrictive approach. His thinking was also influenced by experience of the Northern Ireland peace process and bringing the IRA in from the cold. The fear was that blacklisting Hezbollah would drive it further away, and that there was a distinction between the organisation's armed wing and its political wing, which sits in the Lebanese government and runs a whole civilian infrastructure. But Timmermans clearly believes that one wing is feeding the other.

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