Monday, February 18, 2013

Hezbollah - Terrorists or Politicians?

In a bold departure from the EU’s more diplomatic phrasing of the matter, Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov announced on February 5th that Hezbollah was responsible for the July 2012 bus bomb that killed a Bulgarian national and five Israeli tourists.  The EU continues to be reluctant to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization, claiming that it is divided into separate political and military factions, despite Hezbollah’s assertions that its members leading the government and its members leading the jihad are one and the same.  France and Germany have especially tiptoed around the issue with the former citing fears over their security should they outright condemn Hezbollah, a not unfounded fear given Hezbollah’s 1983 attack on French and American soldiers in Beirut (Weinthal).

Meanwhile, Lebanon appears much more focused on the Syrian civil war and its potential to increase sectarian violence within Lebanon as its religiously-diverse population chooses sides (Al Jazeera).  In a region of the world where increased access to free media has made for the spread of awareness and revolution, Lebanon’s relatively free media has been disregarded by the country’s various groups, which choose instead to gain their information from biased news sources that cater to specific group identities (Prothero).  This has the potential to increase sectarian violence as groups fail to interact with one another and fail to build a national identity outside their own.

The increased violence among these groups is unlikely to result in a civil war since the sectarian democratic government remains one of the less restrictive regimes in the Middle East and permits the country’s various religious groups to participate in the government (Freedom House); however, this assessment is based on the current way of things in Lebanon.  Should Hezbollah—a very active participant in Lebanese politics—be officially designated a terrorist organization, this could potentially destabilize the government, as such an official recognition would negatively impact Hezbollah’s financial, moral, political, and material support (Weinthal).  At a time when sectarian violence is increasing, destabilizing the government could lead to groups aiming to acquire more power in government for their own interests, significantly increasing the chances of a civil war, as well as lead to more violence by the aforementioned terrorist organization in the West and in the region when an official terrorist listing would lessen its incentive to not conduct terrorist attacks.  For the time being, and the EU agrees, it might be best to keep Hezbollah where it is.

Works Cited
"Is Syria's Conflict Being Fought in Lebanon?" Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, 6 June 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2013. <
"Lebanon." Freedom House. Freedom House, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.
Prothero, Mitchell. "Live, from Beirut..." Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy Group, 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2013. <,0>.
Weinthal, Benjamin. "Europe's Hezbollah Problem." Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy Group, 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2013. <,0>.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting rationale against what would essentially be diplomatic intervention. The EU is clearly antagonistic towards Hezbollah as a perpetrator of terrorism supported by Iran. However, the act of declaring them a terrorist organization would do more harm, to citizens of the EU and Lebanon, than it would do good. In this case, it seems the best action for the EU to take would be to not intervene at all, at least for now.