The Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah condemned on Friday the decision by the British government to ban the group in its entirety, saying the move showed “servile obedience” to the United States, Reuters reported.
Hezbollah, which exercises complete political and military control over Lebanon, said in a statement it was a “resistance movement against Israeli occupation” and described the decision to outlaw the group as an “insult to the feelings, sympathies and will of the Lebanese people that consider Hezbollah a major political and popular force.
“Hezbollah sees in this decision servile obedience to the U.S. administration, revealing that the British government is but a mere a follower in service of its American master,” the statement added.
Britain said on Monday it would join the U.S., Israel, Canada, and the Arab League in banning all of the Iranian-controlled terrorist group. Previously, the country had just proscribed Hezbollah’s so-called “militant wing,” a distinction the terrorist group has always rejected.
The decision of the British Home Office could affect the organization’s capacity to raise money.
The move comes as British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt attempts to pressure Iran to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national who has been detained in Iran since April 3, 2016, on trumped-up charges.
“We are staunch supporters of a stable and prosperous Lebanon. We cannot, however, be complacent when it comes to terrorism – it is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist, and by proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the government is sending a clear signal that its destabilising activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security,” Hunt said in a statement.
The minister also accused the terrorist group of prolonging “the conflict and the regime’s brutal and violent repression of the Syrian people.” Hezbollah is fighting on behalf of Iran’s agenda in several Arab countries, including Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
Lebanon acquired a new 30-minister government in January led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which includes three Hezbollah-controlled ministries – more ministries than the terrorist group has ever controlled before. Hezbollah, the only Lebanese armed group not to disarm after the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990, has held positions in Lebanon’s cabinet since 2005.
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