Rtl today – half political party and half militia: Australia classifies Hezbollah as ‘terrorist organization’
Australia on Wednesday classified all of Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization,” extending the ban on armed factions to the entire movement, which wields considerable power over Lebanon.
Home Secretary Karen Andrews said the Tehran-backed Shiite group “continues to threaten terrorist attacks and support terrorist organizations” and poses a “real” and “credible” threat to Australia.
Hezbollah is both a political party and a militia, the only group in Lebanon to have refused to disarm since the end of the civil war in 1990.
The movement, which plays a central role in Lebanese politics, has been accused of fueling the civil war in Syria by sending thousands of fighters across the border to support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
In 2006, he waged a short but devastating war against Israel.
Critics have accused the movement of killing former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, and more recently of blocking investigations into the cataclysmic explosion at the port of Beirut in 2020.
Some countries have sought to distinguish between political and militant Hezbollah factions, fearing that a blanket ban would further destabilize Lebanon and hamper contacts with the authorities.
Australia had such a policy since 2003, when it banned Hezbollah’s so-called External Security Organization – part of the military wing of the movement that mainly focuses on overseas operations in the shadows. .
From now on, membership of the entire organization or its funding will now be banned in Australia, which has a large Lebanese community.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked his “friend” and Australian counterpart Scott Morrison for this decision.
“Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization in Lebanon, responsible for countless attacks in Israel and around the world,” he tweeted.
– “Since a long time” –
No reason has been given for the timing of Canberra’s decision, which comes as Lebanon reeling from spiraling political and economic crises.
It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
Elections are expected in March 2022 and public anger against nepotism and corruption is growing within the Lebanese ruling class.
The move could well play out nationally for Australia’s Conservative government, ahead of its own elections due next year.
Ahead of the 2018 election, Morrison made the surprise decision to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, helping to secure votes in a Sydney siege on the battlefield with a large Jewish community.
Matthew Levitt, a former US counterterrorism finance official now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told AFP the move was “long overdue.”
In June, he told the Australian parliament that the previous designation was “insufficient”, adding that “Hezbollah is structured and functions like a singular organization”.
âIn recent years, a long list of Hezbollah terrorist plots and illicit financial schemes have involved Australian citizens and / or activity on Australian soil,â he said.
The Australian government also announced on Wednesday that it would include the far-right group “The Base” on the list of terrorist groups.
âThey are a violent and racist neo-Nazi group known to security agencies for planning and preparing terrorist attacks,â Andrews said.