During a brief meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Germany to follow the United Kingdom in proscribing the Lebanese-based Iranian proxy group Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization.
“We’re also hoping to get Germany’s help – and we talked about this today – in recognizing Hezbollah as a unified entity and banning it from Germany as our ally, the United Kingdom, did this year,” Pompeo said.
The British government outlawed the Iranian-sponsored terrorist organization in its entirety in March after previously making a distinction between the group’s political and military wings.
Discussing heightened tensions with the Iranian regime in the Persian Gulf, the secretary of state praised Germany’s decision to ban Iran’s Mahan Air from landing in German airports over concerns that the planes are used to transport arms and soldiers to Syria.
“It [Mahan Air] has been a courier for the Iranian regime and its cargo – fighters and weapons – are bound for Middle East battlefields that put Europeans and Americans and others all around the world at risk,” Pompeo said at a press conference in the German capital.
The airline was sanctioned in 2011 by the U.S. Treasury Department for “providing financial, material and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF).”
As a current member of the UN Security Council, Pompeo urged the Merkel government to “take the next step so that we can stop the Iranian torrent of destruction.” The secretary of state specifically emphasized Tehran’s ongoing ballistic missile program, a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Pompeo also discussed with Merkel the kippa controversy that has been roiling German society, after the country’s official in charge of fighting anti-Semitism appealed to the Jewish community not to wear religious symbols in public that identify them as Jews.
“We were concerned to see Jews discouraged from wearing the yarmulke in public out of safety concerns. None of us should shrink in the face of prejudice,” Pompeo said. The German leader told CNN on Tuesday that, “There is to this day not a single synagogue, not a single daycare center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.”
[Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr]