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U.S. Lawmakers Sign Letter Urging E.U. to Fully Designate Hezbollah

Forty-nine U.S. lawmakers have signed a letter praising the European Union for its decision last month to partially blacklist Hezbollah. There is, however, one significant caveat:

A letter signed by 49 members of Congress thanked the European Union for designating Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization but strongly urged the EU to do the same for all of Hezbollah… There is no difference between Hezbollah’s political and military wings, noted the bipartisan group of Congress members who signed the letter, which was addressed to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The lawmakers’ position – denying any distinction between Hezbollah’s so-called military and political wings – aligns with statements from Hezbollah officials. Hezbollah officials have emphasized, both before and after the E.U. blacklisting, that the group’s military and political wings are the same.

The E.U.’s designation came less than a year after Bulgarian officials linked Hezbollah to a July 2012 bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian. A Cypriot court subsequently convicted a confessed Hezbollah operative on terrorism-related charges, the suspicion being that Hezbollah had attempted to carry out a similar attack against Israeli tourists in Cyprus. The combination generated substantial pressure on the E.U. to overcome the reluctance of some members and to formally acknowledge that an organization which commits terror acts on E.U. soil that kill E.U. citizens ought, for the purposes of the E.U., be considered a terror group.

The bipartisan letter notes that the ban and accompanying sanctions “will help disrupt Hezbollah’s dangerous operations around the world,” which include attempted and at times successful terror attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets in Bulgaria, Cyprus, ThailandGeorgia, IndiaAzerbaijanSingapore, and Turkey.

[Photo: cliff1066™ / Flickr]