Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 321

EU decision to ban the military wing of Hezbollah risks closing avenues for dialogue and further destabilising Lebanon’s precarious peace

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 23 luglio 2013

On 22 July EU Foreign Ministers decided unanimously to add the military wing of Hezbollah to its list of proscribed terrorist organisations. While the EU’s apparent aim is to maintain contact with the political wing of Hezbollah and keep humanitarian aid flowing to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the implications in terms of sanctions are still to be seen.
The decision could potentially lead to a travel ban and an asset freeze. It also creates uncertainty around the legality of any financial flows from within the EU to Hezbollah.The first question that comes to mind is how – how will the EU distinguish between Hezbollah’s socio-political wing and its now proscribed military wing? It has never been clear where one ends and the other begins. How will the EU determine what represents financial support to the political wing of Hezbollah, and not to the military wing, for example? The EU ruling has not shed light on this question.Proscription is a blunt instrument. While its supporters argue that it can curtail or limit the activities of extremist groups by isolating them and stemming their financial and political backing, peacebuilders, like UK-based NGO Conciliation Resources, know from our own practical work on engaging armed groups that proscription can have the opposite effect: encouraging extremism and belligerence.It is also far easier to get onto a blacklist than to get off it – the process and criteria for delisting are far from clear. And proscription can stymie support for legitimate activities and lead to confusion amongst diplomats as to what contact is permissible.
Whilst it may often be difficult and uncomfortable to continue to talk with groups who use violence, doing so is often necessary to end and move away from violence. The UK Government learnt this directly during the many years it spent talking to the IRA in order to transform the situation in Northern Ireland. By contrast, one consequence of this blacklisting will be that the space for dialogue in Lebanon and the Middle East has been narrowed.

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