August 16, 2012

FINGER-LICKIN' FUN:

MORE: Despite Alarm by U.S., Europe Lets Hezbollah Operate Openly (NICHOLAS KULISH, 8/15/12, NY Times)
The European Union's unwillingness to place the group on its list of terrorist organizations is also complicating the West's efforts to deal with the Bulgarian bus bombing and the Syrian conflict. The week after the attack in Bulgaria, Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, traveled to Brussels for a regular meeting with European officials, where he called for the European Union to include Hezbollah on the list. But his pleas fell on deaf ears.

"There is no consensus among the E.U. member states for putting Hezbollah in the terrorist-related list of the organizations," Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, the foreign minister of Cyprus, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency, said at the time. "Should there be tangible evidence of Hezbollah engaging in acts of terrorism, the E.U. would consider listing the organization."

The stark difference in views reflects the many roles that Hezbollah has played since it emerged in Lebanon after the Israeli invasion in 1982. Hezbollah's militant wing was responsible for a string of kidnappings and for sophisticated bombings at home and has been accused of bombings abroad. But the group also became a source of social services that the shattered Lebanese government was incapable of providing, and has evolved since then into a political force with two cabinet ministers and a dozen seats in Parliament.

"They are quite professional in this, and this is something some Western donors are admitting that has a positive impression on some Western politicians," said Stephan Rosiny, a research fellow at the Institute of Middle East Studies at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg.

That in turn provides a rationale for the group's charitable networks among Lebanese immigrants in Europe. "They may collect money for their institutions, but they aren't operating publicly," Mr. Rosiny said. "As long as they aren't involved in politics and aren't operating openly, they are tolerated."

Posted by at August 16, 2012 4:25 PM
  

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