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Iran hinting that addition of Hezbollah to terror list might hinder improved relations with the EU

Monday, 29 July 2013

The European Union decision to place Hezbollah’s military wing on its list of terror organizations, adopted on the eve of Rouhani’s inauguration as president of Iran, is yet another impediment to improving relations between the Islamic Republic and the European Union.

The resolution was adopted following serious, primarily political, deliberations among EU member states, since Western intelligence agencies are thoroughly aware of Hezbollah’s involvement in terrorism and that they act in accordance with orders from Tehran. In the United States and Europe, Hezbollah’s involvement in terrorist activity in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries (Kuwait, Bahrain) and Bulgaria is recognized, as is its assistance to Iran in the elimination of the regime’s opponents in Europe, particularly during the 1990s. It appears, however, that Hezbollah’s decision to step in to save Bashar Assad’s regime – at Tehran’s instructions – ultimately tipped the balance towards adoption of the EU resolution.

The decision (knowingly) ignores the basic fact that Hezbollah is a monolithic, hierarchical organization, where no distinction is made between its military and political wings. Heading the organization is Hassan Nasrallah, who considers Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, as the religious and political authority. Nasrallah also heads the Majlis Shura – the supreme body in which decisions are made in Hezbollah. This entity is subject to the Majlis Shura alTanfiz, which is responsible for implementing Hezbollah decisions.

Iran and Hezbollah have closed ranks in response to the EU resolution and emphasized that the decision was adopted following US and Israeli intervention and is designed to serve their interests. It was also emphasized that the decision would tarnish Europe’s image in Islamic countries.

Hezbollah Secretary General Nasrallah said, “This decision gives Israel legitimate coverage for any attack on Lebanon, and these countries (the European Union) have essentially become full partners and will be fully liable for any Israeli action against Lebanon, against the ‘Resistance’ (Hezbollah) or against pockets of resistance (Hezbollah) in Lebanon.” [1]

Iran quickly responded in support of Hezbollah, emphasizing that its battle against Israel and its support of the Lebanese people are the key reasons behind the adoption of the resolution. Iranian media highlighted the letter of support sent by Iranian President-Elect Hassan Rouhani to the Hezbollah Secretary General, in which he praised the organization for “its resistance against Israel” and emphasized Hezbollah’s key position at the forefront as the entity that comprises the hope of the Lebanese and Palestinians for a victory over the Zionist regime (Israel).”

Majlis Chairman Ali Larijani defined the EU’s move towards Hezbollah as a dual approach that will be recorded in the dark history of European actions against Muslims. He stressed that this would tarnish Europe’s good name among Muslims. Larijani emphasized that the Majlis (which issued a notice of support of Hezbollah) would continue to grant Hezbollah full support. In a similar vein, senior religious official Ayatollah Naser Makarem-Shirazi said that with this move, Europe has proven that it cannot be trusted, just as the US cannot be trusted.

Iranian press emphasized that the decision indicates the rise of Iran and Hezbollah, and their growing influence in the balance of regional powers that is shifting due to the Islamic Awakening (the name used by Tehran to denote the Arab Spring) and highlighted the close ties between Hezbollah-Iran-Syria. It is against this backdrop that some editorials in the Iranian media have claimed that “the placement of Hezbollah on the European list of terror organizations essentially constitutes a move designed to contain Iran and limit its moves in the region.” Conservative newspapers have even warned that Iran might reconsider its relationship with several European countries as well as its position regarding continued dialog on the nuclear issue with the P5+1.

During his election campaign, Rouhani stressed that he would work to improve relations with Europe, but the addition of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the continued crisis in Syria – which is gradually spilling over into the Lebanese arena – will make improvement of relations difficult. These are material differences of opinion on one of the core issues of the region.

At the same time, the decision to include only the military wing of Hezbollah in the list of terror organizations provides Europe with an opening (as it did with Hamas) for a dialog with Iran and with what it defines as the “political wing of Hezbollah.”


[1] http://www.almanar.com.lb/adetails.php?eid=545840&frid=21&seccatid=19&cid=21&fromval=1

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  • Published: 2 years ago on Monday, 29 July 2013
  • By: Iran Daily Brief
  • Last Modified: July 29, 2013 @ 9:13 pm
  • Filed Under: Editorial
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