(New York, N.Y.) – On Tuesday, Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Senior Director Hans-Jakob Schindler, Polish MEP and former Foreign Affairs Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, and CEP Senior Advisor and former Irish Deputy Foreign Minister Lucinda Creighton, authored an op-ed in the EU Observer titled, “Time for EU to Get Real on Hezbollah.” It discusses the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council’s renewal of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mandate on August 28 and urges the European Union (EU) to re-calibrate its foreign policy approach in the region by strengthening the U.N. mandate in a way that will bring real stability to Lebanon by curbing Hezbollah.
“…neither the EU's foreign policy, nor the UNIFIL mandate, are in line with the current state of affairs, as Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terrorist group which presents itself as a political party, continues to exploit Lebanon for its own nefarious purposes and insert itself into the political sphere. According to Western intelligence agencies, Iran funds Hezbollah to the tune of $200m to $300m [€168-€252] per year in cash outlays alone, and provides an arsenal of weapons and logistical services valued at more than $700m.”
The authors underscore the devastating effects of Hezbollah’s decades-long entrenchment into Lebanon’s political system and economy—from vast government mismanagement and corruption to slowed economic growth and public debt burdens.
“The importance of strengthening UNIFIL must not be underestimated to truly tackle the destruction and instability caused by the militia. Hezbollah has flagrantly violated the UN mandate, as it continues arms smuggling via Syria with Iran and digging tunnels along the Israeli border. A recent report from the UN Security Council itself has found that UNIFIL was consistently not granted access to investigate sites of interest to its operations, has been unable to crack down on arms smuggling and has faced backlash from local Hezbollah sympathizers.”
They ultimately call on EU member states and U.N. Security Council members to strengthen the UNFIL mandate so it can be a more effective instrument to push back against Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon. The authors also urge individual EU states to take their own concrete action against the terror group by banning Hezbollah in entirety.
“Evidentially, neither the EU's' approach to Hezbollah nor the current UNIFIL mandate are fit for purpose. This combination of imperfect foreign policy has allowed the terrorist militia to become an almost untouchable force in Lebanon. It is time for European countries to recognize Hezbollah for the terror group it truly is and for the UN Security Council to strengthen the mandate of UNIFIL to allow the soldiers to effectively monitor suspect sites. Only then can Europe continue its legacy of bringing hope and stability to the next generation of Lebanese people.”
To read the EU Observer op-ed in full, please click here.
To read CEP’s Hezbollah resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Lebanon resource, please click here.