Sputnik – The UK will ban all wings of Hezbollah due to its destabilising influence in the Middle East, classing the movement as a terrorist organisation. Subject to parliament’s approval, the order will go into effect Friday and being a member of, or inviting support for, Hezbollah will be a criminal offense, carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Sputnik discussed the reason for Britain’s decision and its possible consequences with Elijah J. Magnier, Al-Rai Chief International, a veteran war correspondent, terrorism & CT analyst.
Sputnik: The British government has decided to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah’s opponents often compare it to Daesh and al-Qaeda. In your opinion, could ideology of Hezbollah be considered hostile?
Elijah J. Magnier: Hezbollah’s objective was, in 1985, to establish an “Islamic State” in Lebanon according to its first Manifesto. In 2009, Hezbollah changed its objectives and understood that an “Islamic State” in Lebanon is an impossible objective to achieve. Today Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese parliament and government. It is leading and managing many municipalities in Beirut, south of Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley and represents, alone, a third of the population.
However, the different political parties and politicians who supports Hezbollah’s objective and its raison d’être in Lebanon count around 73 MPs out of a total of 120 and 17 Ministers out of a total of 30. The President was selected by Hezbollah, the Prime Minister was approved by Hezbollah (even if both belong to opposed political parties) and the Speaker is a Hezbollah’s ally. Many security and Intelligence leaders in the Army, the national security and the general security apparatus are supportive of Hezbollah. If Hezbollah represents a danger to the UK, than the British government should cut all ties with Lebanon.
Sputnik: According to British government, it has become hard to distinguish Hezbollah’s military wing from its political one. In your opinion is it that difficult to sort out the current structure of the organization?
Elijah J. Magnier: The military and political wings of Hezbollah are under one single leadership since Hezbollah’s existence. This difference was created by the UK in the past to justify its relationship with Hezbollah. It seems the lobby calling to cut the ties with Hezbollah has won. Nevertheless, I heard that the UK diplomats are finding a way out of this impasse they cornered themselves in. The UK is expected to keep its contact with Hezbollah under a different title, to “convince Hezbollah to join the peace process and reject terrorism”. The question is: would Hezbollah accepts to keep contacts with the UK? I doubt.
Sputnik: Why did the UK make this decision right now? Could these events be somehow connected with leaving the EU?
Elijah J. Magnier: Not at all. It is the decision of the UK Home secretary who forwarded his decision to the Parliament in a moment where, in the west, it has become a taboo to criticise Israel doing and is a privilege to earn Israel favouritism. Within these parameters, to my mind, the UK Home Secretary made his hostile move against Hezbollah.
Sputnik: How will the UK’s decision affect Hezbollah’s activities in the Lebanese Parliament (where it holds a significant number of seats)? Could Hezbollah’s influence in the Middle East in general be altered?
Elijah J. Magnier: Actually, it is the other way around. Hezbollah’ enemies in Lebanon and the Middle East will no increase neither his friends will decrease after the UK decision. It is the UK politicians and diplomats who are expected to be affected by this decision. According to my sources, Hezbollah is expected to tighten the access of UK diplomats to intelligence and to the Lebanese government institutions where Hezbollah and his Lebanese political friends operate.
Sputnik: What are the chances that EU states will follow the UK’s footsteps and ban Hezbollah in its entirety?
Elijah J. Magnier: Europe has never been united over many issues and in particular over the Foreign Policy. EU Hight Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Frederica Mogherini was in Lebanon when UK announced its new stand towards Hezbollah and clearly said the EU will keep its relationship with all parties in Lebanon without any change. France also said it will not follow the UK because its leaders understand the necessity to keep a smooth access to Lebanese institutions. Thus, the answer is no to the main EU countries and not those European countries who are located in the US-Israel orbit.
Sputnik: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Hezbollah has active cells in Venezuela. Could the UK decision be somehow linked to the Venezuelan crisis and external pressure on Maduro’s government?
Elijah J. Magnier: I don’t think so. After many decades, we hear for the first time the US is suddenly discovering Hezbollah footprint in Venezuela when the US establishment is promoting a regime change and the removal of President Maduro. The US interventionists within the actual establishment can come up with any excuse to intervene in a sovereign country. The Saddam Hussein Weapon of Mass Destruction is still alive in the memory of the world. Therefore the UK decision is far from being linked to Venezuela but mainly linked to the UK-Israel relationship.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik’s position.