July 2, 2021 | Policy Brief

Australia, Canada Take Steps on Hezbollah and Hamas Terrorism Designations

July 2, 2021 | Policy Brief

Australia, Canada Take Steps on Hezbollah and Hamas Terrorism Designations

An Australian parliamentary committee recommended on June 22 that the government list the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, an expansion beyond Australia’s current listing of only Hezbollah’s External Security Organization (ESO). The recommendation coincides with Canada’s renewal of terrorism listings for both Hezbollah and Hamas in early June, a sign of growing recognition that neither organization has a non-terrorist wing.

Australian law requires triennial reviews of designated entities to determine whether they should remain listed. In May, Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) began its review of the Hezbollah ESO’s status on the terrorism list. The final decision will be made by Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews.

The PJCIS found that Australia is “out of step with its closest allies” in listing only Hezbollah’s ESO and not the entire organization.

A full listing would finally bring Australia in line with the nearly 20 countries — along with the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council — that have designated or sanctioned Iran-backed Hezbollah in its entirety. These include Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Last year, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Serbia all banned, or announced their intention to ban, the group. Switzerland is reportedly studying the issue.

Still, key U.S. partners do not recognize that terrorism is integral to Hezbollah’s purpose. The European Union maintains an official distinction between Hezbollah’s ostensibly separate “military” and “political” wings despite the group’s own statements that it is a unified, not bifurcated, organization. The European Union maintains this fiction because of a mistaken belief that this distinction will protect Europe from Hezbollah terrorism, as EU leaders fear that a full designation would destabilize Lebanon and preclude contact with Hezbollah and Lebanese officials. Neither of those assumptions has proven true. Individual EU countries — such as Bulgaria, where Hezbollah bombed a bus full of Israeli tourists in 2012, and France, where U.S. officials said Hezbollah has stored dangerous bomb-making materials — subscribe to this false dichotomy as well.

Beyond its relisting of Hezbollah and Hamas, Canada has been reluctant to take additional steps to confront and thwart international terrorism. Ottawa has not designated the entirety of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity, instead listing only the IRGC Quds Force. In 2019, the United States designated the entire IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Canadian parliament passed a motion in 2018 recommending such a step, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has yet to act on it. As underscored by Canada’s recent forensic report on Iran’s downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, the IRGC is responsible for the deaths of at least 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Hamas, Hezbollah, and the IRGC all share a common benefactor in the Islamic Republic of Iran. All deserve terrorism designations worldwide — not merely as a symbolic gesture but to limit these organizations’ fundraising capabilities and discourage recruitment. In countries where Hezbollah’s so-called “political wing” is allowed to operate, its personnel can solicit donations and other forms of support.

Canada’s relisting of Hamas and Hezbollah last month, as well as the PJCIS recommendation, are encouraging steps but are not enough to sufficiently inhibit these groups’ operations.

At a time when IRGC-affiliated groups are launching attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq, when Hamas is openly advocating violence against Israeli citizens, and when Hezbollah continues to hollow out the Lebanese state, like-minded allies and partners should take decisive action.

In Canada, Trudeau should finally list the entire IRGC as a terrorist organization and crack down on its network, affiliates, and assets. In Australia, Andrews should heed the committee’s recommendation and list the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. And President Joe Biden’s State Department should urge countries around the world to designate Hezbollah in its entirety to reduce its global footprint.

Toby Dershowitz is senior vice president for government relations and strategy at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Dylan Gresik is a government relations analyst. They both contribute to FDD’s Iran Program and Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP). For more analysis from Toby, Dylan, the Iran Program, and CEFP, please subscribe HERE. Follow them on Twitter @tobydersh and @DylanGresik. Follow FDD @FDD and @FDD_Iran and @FDD_CEFP. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Sanctions Lebanon Palestinian Politics Sanctions and Illicit Finance