1 thought on “UK to proscribe Hezbollah”

  1. “Hizballah is continuing in its attempts to destabilase (sic) the fragile situation in the Middle East”. To be accurate, HB helped stabilise the fragile situation in the ME after the moderate resistance to al-Asad had been defeated. While their aim was to safeguard the Shi’a of Lebanon from the likely slaughter by the Salafis (and secondarily to maintain a pro-Iranian regime in power in Syria), HB stood behind al-Asad against the jihadis of AQ and IS until the Russians and US arrived to suppress the salafis. My enemy’s enemy is not my friend, but the West certainly benefitted from HB’s actions.
    “Since 2008 the UK and some others, including since 2013 the EU, have made a distinction between the military wing of Hizbullah, blacklisted as a terrorist organisation, and the political wing with which we continued to do business. This was a concept imported from Northern Ireland, where it was useful, perhaps essential, in achieving peace.” The concept pre-dates Northern Ireland – it was a frequent feature of the de-colonisation era, which was in itself perhaps inspired (on both sides) by the British experience in Ireland over the preceding centuries. Exceptions – like AQ or the NLF in Aden – made negotiation difficult, since there was no one with whom to negotiate.
    “For Lebanon it was always something of a fiction; Hizbullah itself recognises no such division.” HB has numerous groupings which form part of the larger Hizballah umbrella organisation, internal security, combat (which are terrorist organisations), and social services, political, propaganda etc, which are not. A forensic accountant could probably find numerous other groupings! It is difficult honestly to describe HB’s satellite TV station al-Manar as conforming to “(1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where:
    the action falls within subsection (2)
    the use or threat is designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public or a section of the public
    the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.” (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-terrorism-act-2006)
    Nevertheless, UK politicians have now followed sundry other suit, and politicised an analytic definition. That – as we’ve seen in numerous other parts of the world – is a slippery slope: a future Corbyn regime might decide to proscribe the Young Conservatives (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/aug/17/inquiry-into-tory-bullying-scandal-finds-13-alleged-victims-of-mark-clarke) ….
    “UK ministers announcing the change of policy have not pointed to any new development which has triggered it, and none is obvious.” Two potential triggers spring to mind: this being a quid-pro-quo for a BREXIT deal (https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israel-is-the-first-country-to-finalize-post-Brexit-trade-deal-with-UK-578504); and the recent visit by the lobbyist Matthew Levitt (https://rusi.org/event/breakfast-briefing-hezbollah-and-terrorist-financing) who was very keen to point out that this proscription did not prevent HMG or the EU from talking to terrorists under CP931.
    “if Javid knows of any reason why the change will help “protect the British people” he has not explained it.” That does rather imply that British politicians ever consider “the British people”, rather than themselves. As Landale notes, there are individual benefits: being “tough on terrorism” will doubtless improve the (probably Sunni Muslim) Javid’s chances of replacing Theresa May; doing a favour for the Israelis is also likely to improve his chances of the leadership in a party of which 80% are “Friends of Israel” (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/9740044/The-cowardice-at-the-heart-of-our-relationship-with-Israel.html) His leadership rival, Jeremy Hunt, can merely cheer half-heartedly from the sidelines.
    “There is a downside: it will be more difficult for the British government and the British Embassy in Beirut to talk to, understand and deal effectively with Lebanon, especially on issues of war and peace.” That is not a downside to the architects of and lobbyists for this policy: with a lack of interaction comes ignorance and intransigence, rather than solution; status quo rather than progress. The legislation will probably also make it difficult for academics and journalists to interact with HB, thus further reducing information available to the public: all that will be left is “fake news” produced by right wing lobby shops.
    HB’s support for the brutal al-Asad regime has cost it much of the credit it gained from defeating Israel in 2006. HB’s excuse for retaining its weapons is that it needs them to resist the Israeli occupation of the Sheba Farms. However, Israel is unlikely to surrender such water-productive land, and so HB is able to maintain its fig-leaf of legitimacy. As so often, ideology and political expediency trumps UK national interest.

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