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Germany denies plans to ban Hezbollah 

File photo of Hezbollah's troops
Hezbollah's troops [File photo]

The spokesperson for the Interior Ministry has refuted media reports that Germany will ban the Lebanese movement Hezbollah in its entirety. Steve Alter announced on Twitter that “an alleged government decision on a ban on Hezbollah” could not be confirmed.

Yesterday German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel claimed it had “learned from government circles” that the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Justice had reached an agreement in the previous week to designate the political wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in line with the official position of the US, Israel and the Arab League.

Most EU member states, including Germany, thus far only consider Hezbollah’s military wing, the “Islamic Resistance” as a terrorist organisation on par with the PKK and Daesh. One such state is France which says it is important to distinguish between the political and military arms of the Lebanese Shia movement to help foster dialogue and diplomacy.

Earlier this year, caving into pressure from the Trump administration’s increased pressure on Hezbollah’s key benefactor, Tehran, the UK departed from its policy of distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military branches by proscribing “the group in its entirety” as a terrorist organisation.

READ: Lebanon Hariri says does not want to be next PM

However, the political wing of Hezbollah, the “Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc”, is a democratically elected political party with representation in Lebanese parliament. In the country’s last elections in May 2018, Hezbollah’s political bloc emerged as the largest beneficiary and named three cabinet members in the government, two of whom belong to Hezbollah. Yet, Lebanon has been afflicted with political uncertainty following nationwide protests against economic mismanagement and corruption which have led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Today Hezbollah is arguably the most powerful armed entity in Lebanon, surpassing that of the national armed forces in weaponry, training and combat experience, having also taken part in the civil war in neighbouring Syria. Hezbollah emerged from Lebanon’s own devastating civil war, primarily as a social movement for the impoverished Shia community and in reaction to the Israeli invasion and occupation of the south.

Despite all other armed factions of the civil war disarming, Hezbollah has refused to do so citing deterrence against future Israeli aggression and justifying its arsenal in light of Israel’s continued occupation of the Shebaa Farms, claimed as Lebanese territory and which forms part of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

Earlier this week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Lebanon’s government to disarm Hezbollah, saying it posed a threat to the peacekeeping mission stationed on the Israel-Lebanon border.

READ: Lebanese protesters clash with supporters of Hezbollah, Amal in Beirut

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