London, 24 August – Iran’s Lebanese proxy group Hezbollah is stronger than ever and has significantly expanded its stockpile of weapons, according to a televised statement by the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, as part of a broadcast marking the anniversary of the 2006 war with Israel.
The Centre for Strategic and International Studies reports that Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict on behalf of Iran allowed the group to increase its weapons’ holdings as well as improve training and planning.
During the broadcast, Nasrallah also said that the group would celebrate victory in Syria, where between 7,000 and 10,000 fighters are supporting Bashar Assad, “very soon”.
Of course, something that is notably not mentioned in his statement is that the $200 million per year cash flow from Iran will soon dry up. Heavy US sanctions on Iran will rapidly decrease the amount of money that the mullahs have available to spend on their terrorist counterparts across the world, including Hezbollah.
This could mean that Hezbollah puts more effort into its international funding activities, from extortion to smuggling. After all, Hezbollah has plenty of experience that goes beyond the battlefields of the Middle East, including money laundering and drug trafficking on the shores of Europe.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) carried out an investigation into a UK-based Hezbollah associate that was laundering money as part of the group’s international drug trafficking network, which was revealed at the same time as arrests were made in France and Germany. The Iran-backed group also has a global network of shell corporations and criminal enterprises that are worth over $1 billion a year.
This means that Hezbollah presents a real threat to EU security, but the problem is that most EU countries (except for the Netherlands) make a distinction between the military and political wings of Hezbollah, which not even the leaders of Hezbollah do, and only blocks the military wing.
Hezbollah’s deputy leader Naim Qassem has even stated: “We don’t have a military wing and a political one”.
Hezbollah may hold half the parliamentary seats in Lebanon, but the idea that a legitimately elected government in Europe should negotiate with Iran’s puppets is insane. The countries that do not make the false distinction between the two and ban Hezbollah in full, like the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, still maintain full diplomatic relations with Lebanon, without giving legitimacy to a terrorist group that seeks to promote Iran’s agenda above that of the Lebanese people.
Many politicians in the UK, from across the political spectrum, support the banning of Hezbollah as a whole, including Labour MP Joan Ryan and Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, in order to make support for this terrorist group illegal in the UK. The Home Secretary should listen to this and encourage their EU neighbours to join them.
The UK should also join the US in getting tough on Iran, as ending this policy of appeasement will stop all of Iran’s terrorist proxies from being able to attack Europe and the Middle East. Hezbollah and many other terrorist groups benefit from a friendly policy towards the mullahs.