WASHINGTON, DC - A bipartisan coalition spanning more than half of the United States Senate today introduced a resolution urging the European Union to sanction Lebanese Hizballah both for terrorism and for its direct and material support to Bashar al Assad in his war against the Syrian people.
Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and James Risch (R-ID) coauthored the resolution, which 57 Senators so far have cosponsored.
The United States has designated Hizballah as a terrorist organization since the mid-1990s, and the organization has been tied to repeated terrorist attacks over the past thirty years that have killed Americans, Europeans, Lebanese, and others. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, "The past year has witnessed the most aggressive Hizballah terrorist activity outside the Middle East since the 1990s."
Hizballah is widely suspected of carrying out a suicide bombing in July on European Union territory, in Bulgaria, in which an EU citizen and five Israelis were killed. The European Union, however, has not yet designated Hizballah for terrorism. In October, John Brennan, President Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor, told a European audience in Dublin, Ireland, that, "Failure to designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization makes it harder to defend our countries and protect our citizens." Mr. Brennan also stated that the Bulgaria terrorist bombing "bore the hallmarks of a Hizballah attack."
Since the outbreak of the Arab Spring in early 2011, Hizballah has also been widely implicated in partnering with Iran's IRGC Qods Force to bolster the campaign of repression and violence by their ally, Bashar al Assad -- including sending Hizballah fighters to Syria, where over 40,000 people have been killed. The U.S. government has sanctioned Hizballah and its leaders for their support to the Assad regime, but the European Union has not yet done so.
"The time has come for our European Union allies to sanction Hizballah," said Senator Lieberman. "In particular over the past year, the evidence has become overwhelming and indisputable that Hizballah as an organization is doing everything it can keep its ally Bashar al Assad in power, and that it is responsible for carrying out acts of terrorism.
“In September, I led a letter signed by 76 Senators to EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton strongly urging that the European Union designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In her response, Ms. Ashton explained the bureaucratic hurdles to a designation, something which I believe can and should be overcome. I am proud to join with Senators Lieberman, Risch and many other colleagues to send a clear message to the European Union that it should not continue with this charade. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and must be treated as such,” said Senator Casey. Senator Casey’s previous letter can be found here.
“I strongly urge the European Union to join the United States and other allies in designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. It is well known that Hezbollah has conducted terrorist attacks around the world, and that Syria and Iran have supported Hezbollah’s violence across the Middle East and Europe. A strong message must be sent that attacks against democracy and innocent victims will not be tolerated. We must be united in our opposition to terrorism,” said Senator Risch.