Terrorism

Others may follow German ban on Hizbullah, analysts say

By Nohad Topalian in Beirut

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A police officer stands in front of Berlin's Al-Irschad Mosque in Berlin during an April 30th raid, as police and special forces stormed associations linked to Hizbullah in Bremen, Berlin, Dortmund and Muenster. [Odd Andersen/AFP]

It is likely that following Germany's recent decision to impose a total ban on all the activities of Lebanese Hizbullah on its soil, other countries will take similar actions to ban the Iran-backed militia, political analysts said.

Like the EU, Germany had until now only outlawed Hizbullah's military wing, while tolerating its political wing.

In a May 4th speech, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah denounced the German move and denied the party was active in that country.

Germany "has the right to ban any activity on its soil that it deems illegal", Shia opposition figure Ali al-Amin told Al-Mashareq.

Other countries have previously taken this step, and there will be more European and international efforts to designate Hizbullah a terrorist group after some initial reluctance to distinguish between its political and military wings.

"Germany's designation of Hizbullah has nothing to do with Lebanon, which has a strong relationship with Germany," al-Amin said.

Germany has been participating in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) since 2006 and also has expressed willingness to help Lebanon address its electricity issues, he noted.

Hizbullah has harmed Lebanon

Hizbullah's arsenal of illegal weapons, along with its involvement in regional conflicts, have "jeopardised and hurt Lebanon's relations with Arab and Gulf states and the international community", al-Amin said.

This has in turn exacerbated Lebanon's financial and economic crises, he added.

Through its actions, which include its control of illegal border crossings, Hizbullah has "undermined Lebanon sovereignty... and has declared its subservience to Iran", he said.

Iran's support for Hizbullah "stems from its efforts to consolidate its influence in the region", he said, noting that it has used the militia to carry out attacks.

Germany's decision hit Hizbullah and Iran "like a thunderbolt", Lebanese Centre for Research and Consulting director Hassan Qutb told Al-Mashareq.

The speed with which special assistant to the speaker of Iran's Shura Council Hossein Amir Abdullahian denounced the German decision, calling it "a strategic mistake", highlights Hizbullah's role as part of Iran's regional network, he said.

Germany's move also will have repercussions on Lebanon, Qutb said.

"The party's presence and participation in the government will put the Lebanese authority in an awkward position, at a time when it is counting on European financial support to mitigate the financial crisis" he said.

Abdullahian's defense of Hizbullah and his insinuation that Germany's regional interests will be at risk "is a threat to Germany in defence of Iran's proxy in the region", he said.

Other countries will follow suit

By issuing the decision to ban all Hizbullah activities on its soil, Germany is "exercising its sovereignty", said Naufal Daou, one of the founders of Lebanon's Assembly for Sovereignty.

The Assembly for Sovereignty movement seeks to counter Hizbullah's influence and mobilise the Lebanese public against the party.

Iran "considers Hizbullah one of its key executive arms that serves its interests in the region, so it is keen to defend it, even at the expense of its people", he told Al-Mashareq.

Germany reached a point where it could not allow its national security to be threatened, he said, "so it joined the bevy of countries that have designated the party as a terrorist group".

Dauo predicted that other European countries will follow suit, including France.

In October 2018, France accused Iran's intelligence ministry of being behind a foiled plot to bomb an exiled opposition group near Paris.

Following the incident, the French government announced it was freezing the assets of two suspected Iranian intelligence operatives, as well as assets belonging to Iran's ministry of intelligence and security.

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