August 9, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5401

Criticism In Saudi Arabia: Placing Hizbullah's Military Wing On Terror List Is Not Enough

August 9, 2013
Special Dispatch No. 5401

Following the E.U. decision to place Hizbullah's military wing on the list of terror organizations, articles appeared in the Saudi press that criticized the E.U. for making a distinction between Hizbullah's military and political wings. The articles claimed that the distinction is groundless, since the organization's two arms are similar and since the military one is in fact subordinate to the political one; hence, the E.U.'s decision is hypocritical and is an insult to the public's intelligence.[1] The articles claimed further that the decision would not prevent Hizbullah from continuing its present activities and posing a threat to Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries. One article praised the decision as a good start but argued that it is not sufficient.

It should be noted that the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including Saudi Arabia, recently designated Hizbullah a terror organization and resolved to consider taking measures against its interests within their borders. However, these countries have not yet officially placed Hizbullah on their terror lists, on the grounds that they are still developing the necessary procedures.[2]

The following are excerpts from some of the articles in the Saudi press:

The E.U. Was Lenient With Hizbullah Because It Feared Iran's Reaction

Yousuf Al-Kuwailit, editor of the government daily Al-Riyadh, attacked the E.U.'s decision in an editorial titled "Hizbullah and Europe's Hypocrisy In Blacklisting It." He wrote that the organization's two arms are related, and that Europe, well aware of Hizbullah's terrorist nature, had been lenient with this organization because it feared the reaction of Iran. He wrote further that the E.U.'s decision would not deter Hizbullah from continuing its activities.

"Europe's hesitancy does not stem from [any doubt about] Hizbullah's true nature as an Iranian arm for carrying out terrorist operations... [Nor does the E.U.'s decision] ensure that [Hizbullah] will not continue on the same path. The organization may be hurt by a ban imposed on some or all of its leaders, and it is possible that its sources of income, its money transfers, and its profits will now be placed under surveillance. However, such surveillance is no easy matter, because supervising Hizbullah's activities actually entails supervising Iran, Syria and organizations other [than Hizbullah] that shelter under the cover of banks and institutions bearing the name of people and circles that are not included on the [terror] list. Hence, [placing Hizbullah's military wing on the terror list] will remain a symbolic diplomatic measure that will not prevent Hizbullah from carrying out its operations unfettered and unafraid.

"The task is difficult and complicated because the European states have no more means to exert pressure, given [the decline in] their economic and political influence. Their lenient attitude towards Hizbullah stems from their fear of the Iranian response [to more severe measures against this organization]. For the close ties [between Iran and Hizbullah] mandate that the European attitude will not be tough enough to hurt Iran's ally [Hizbullah], which would cause negative repercussions for the countries of the [European] continent."

Al-Kuwailit rejected the European claim that the decision to include only Hizbullah's military wing on the terror list was motivated by a desire to spare Lebanon and its interests. Lebanon, he said, is harmed by Hizbullah whether this organization is placed on the terror list or not, because Hizbullah "is a military and political force that does as it pleases [in Lebanon], and which the Lebanese government is unable to restrain …" Al-Kuwailit concluded: "In general terms, Hizbullah will remain a problem for Lebanon and an [source of] entanglement for the Arab [states] and the world."[3]

The Distinction Between The Military And Political Wings – Hypocrisy And An Insult To People's Intelligence

Dr. Hasna Al-Quna'ir, a columnist in the daily Al-Riyadh, similarly argued that to distinguish between Hizbullah's military and political wings is a mistake and that the E.U. should have blacklisted the organization as a whole. She wrote: "The European decision divided Hizbullah into two parts – a military part, which the decision deems terrorist, and a political [part, which it deems] non-terrorist! In reality this division is incorrect, because one cannot distinguish between the political [part] and the military [part] or even the religious [part] of this organization, which was originally established on a military basis with weapons constituting one of the most important factors behind it. [In fact, Hizbullah] put the weapon as a symbol on its yellow banners, and its secretary-general [also] serves as the chief commander of its military force. According to the European reasoning, this places him in the status of bin Laden, Al-Zarqawi and the rest of the terrorists.

"Accepting the European division of Hizbullah [into two separate wings], we might ask: Why do the Europeans consider the Hamas movement in its entirety a terrorist organization and don't treat it like Hizbullah, [especially] when it has never embroiled itself in dirty actions like Hizbullah? Likewise, in light of this division that considers [only] half of Hizbullah a terrorist organization, we might ask: How would Hassan Hizb Al-Lat[4] [the reference is to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah] and the rest of his gang be classified? Would [they be classified as part of the] political arm, when they are the ones bathing in Syrian blood? Hassan Nasrallah himself has on numerous occasions admitted his involvement in Syria. Furthermore, what about the terror that Hizbullah [is perpetrating] against the Arab Gulf states and its attempt to undermine their security, as occurred in Bahrain as part of an Iranian agenda that seeks to prevent [this country from achieving] stability?…

"According to many analysts, the [fact that] most of the European countries agreed to include only Hizbullah's military wing on the list of terror organizations is an insult to people's intelligence, because there is no such thing as the military arm or the political arm of this organization. There is only a terrorist organization whose actions within Lebanon and outside it do not differ from the actions of any other terrorist organization worldwide. Others view the decision as vague and compare it [unfavorably] with America's position towards Hizbullah – for, in contrast to the E.U.'s position, the U.S. considers Hizbullah a terrorist organization without [making] any distinction between its military and political wings. [These commentators] wonder how anyone can decide who is a political [figure] within Hizbullah and who is military one.

"Despite the Europeans' attempt to hint that they distinguished between the organization's political and military wings so that the decision would not [adversely] impact Lebanon, a strategic [affairs] expert said that including Hizbullah's 'military wing' on the list of terrorist organizations without prohibiting diplomatic relations with [Hizbullah] is nothing but European hypocrisy. This [hypocrisy] is evident from [the fact] that, when the European foreign ministers convened in Brussels, they proclaimed their intention 'to continue the dialogue' with all the Lebanese political parties – including Hizbullah, which, [they said,] has a major role in Lebanon… How can they include Hizbullah on the terror [organization] list [while simultaneously] conducting a dialogue with it? Are the Hizbullah politicians, headed by Hassan Nasrallah, not the [very same figures] who formulate the [organization's] terror plans? Are they not the ones who dispatch fighters to Syria and finance them? In light of this, would it not have been more fitting for the E.U. to [regard] Hizbullah in its entirety as one military and political organization and include it in the list of international terrorist organizations – [that is,] if the E.U. was serious about the measure that it dared to take?…"[5]

Now That Hizbullah's Activity Is Recognized As Terror, It's Time To Hold Iran Accountable

An editorial in the government Saudi daily Al-Yawm made a similar argument and also advocated holding Iran to account as the country that had established Hizbullah: "The European Union has been forced to face reality and add the military wing of the Lebanese Hizbullah to the list of terrorist organizations that wreak destruction and devastation throughout the world… In practice, Hizbullah is a single unit whose military arm is no different from its political arm, because [in reality], this organization, which hides behind [its] Lebanese citizenship and the Arabic language, is one of the branches of the rule of the jurisprudent in Tehran and is committed to Iran's directives, morality, interests and aspirations.

"Hizbullah was originally established for the primary purpose of abusing the Arab states, plotting against them and carrying out cruel actions against the existence, history and identity of the Arab ummah. Its cruel actions in Syria are proof that it is a terrorist [organization]… Hizbullah contributes to the success of the ethnic cleansing project that Tehran is performing in Syria. These actions, in which Hizbullah openly takes pride… are crimes and atrocities no different from what tyrants and criminals have done throughout human history on the order of [rulers like] the emperor Nero who burned Rome, Hulagu [Khan, the Mongol conqueror] who destroyed Baghdad [in 1258] and killed the last Muslim Caliph, and ending with Stalin who planned acts of slaughter and torture against the Russians lasting many long years in the early 20th century…

"The European states, many of whom sought to avoid condemning Hizbullah for reasons of self-interest, were compelled to condemn the organization's overt crimes [committed] almost everywhere in the Middle East… Now that the European countries have condemned the military actions of Hizbullah and acknowledged that they are acts of terror, the country that established the organization, that finances and guides it, and that plans its actions of aggression [and of fomenting] civil wars must be held to account. [This] is Iran, and the European states must state their true opinion about [this] country, which devotes its resources, efforts and funds to planning terror activities and instigating internal strife, disorder and wars in every place that its fingers and the fingers of Hizbullah's cells can reach."[6]

This Long-Awaited Decision Is Just The Beginning

While most responses criticized the E.U. decision, some also praised it. In an article in the government Saudi daily 'Okaz, columnist Muhammad Hassan Mufti praised the decision as one that the world had long awaited, but expressed hope that it would lead to additional measures against the organization: "The measure that the European Union adopted today by including the military wing of 'the devil's organization' on the list of terror organizations may restore a modicum of the justice that has been denied [to us in the treatment of] this evil organization. This is a decision that we have long awaited and that most of the world's countries [also] awaited and anticipated with great interest.

"The international condemnation does not of course suffice, and the sanctions [that are imposed] as a result of it on those maintaining ties with the organization, and the freezing of the accounts of organization members, does not provide a satisfactory response to this organization. However, rain begins with a few drops, and a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. At this stage, we do consider the decision... a response, however small, to the hundreds of thousands of martyrs who fell victim to the cannon-fire of Bashar Al-Assad and his oppressive heretical regime…"[7]


[1] It should be mentioned that the officials of Hizbullah itself condemned the E.U.'s decision on the grounds that there is no difference between the organization's two arms. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5374 "Senior Hizbullah Officials And Associates: There Is No Distinction Between Hizbullah's Political And Military Arms," July 24, 2013.

[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London) , June 2, 2013.

[3] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 24, 2013.

[4] Hizb Al-Lat: The reference is to Hizbullah in a facetious play on words that replaces "Allah" with "Lat," the name of one of the three goddesses in whom the Arabs believed in pre-Islamic times.

[5] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 23, 2013.

[6] Al-Yawm (Saudi Arabia), July 22, 2013.

[7] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), July 24, 2013.

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