July 22, 2013 | Quote
European Union Adds Hezbollah to Terror List
The European Union on Monday added the military wing of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group, to a list of terrorist organizations, a policy shift that was welcomed by the United States and Israel despite questions about its overall effects.
The accompanying sanctions are expected to include asset freezes and possible travel bans on some individuals, which could initially represent little more than political embarrassment for Hezbollah. But some sanctions experts said the policy shift set a precedent that could compromise Hezbollah’s fund-raising operations.
Europe has been an important financial conduit for Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful political party, which has been implicated in attacks on Israelis abroad, maintains an arsenal of rockets trained at Israel and has come to the aid of Syria’s government in its effort to crush an uprising now in its third year.
Others called the European Union’s action a significant setback for Hezbollah, partly because it could provide the United States with a new legal basis for strengthening its own sanctions against Hezbollah’s commercial and fund-raising activities in a way that could then pressure the Europeans to do the same.
The toughened European sanctions against Iran, including an oil boycott, evolved in the same way under American pressure, said Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, an advocacy group in Washington that supports sanctions.
“Today’s military designation was a powerful symbolic blow,” Mr. Dubowitz said. “It hasn’t been a death blow. But it’s certainly laid an important predicate.”