| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Congress calls on EU to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist group

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) has approved a resolution urging the European Union to categorically classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

The committee’s members also approved a different resolution urging the US administration to destroy the Assad regime’s drug networks, particularly those that traffic in Captagon, an amphetamine-like stimulant.

The resolution, which the House will now vote on, supports and applauds the US and EU’s expanded and ongoing cooperation in blocking Hezbollah’s criminal and terrorist operations.

It also calls on the EU to sanction Hezbollah-affiliated terrorists in tandem with the US. The resolution “urges the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization and increase pressure on the group.”

Pressure on the group would include better cross-border cooperation between European Union members in combatting Hezbollah, issuing arrest warrants against members and active supporters of the group, freezing Hezbollah’s assets in Europe and banning fundraising activities in support of it.

Washington has worked to isolate and pressure Iran-backed Hezbollah for years, but Europe, specifically France, has held up unified opposition.

The Elysee continues to differentiate between Hezbollah’s so-called military and political wings.

And in recent years, several countries in the Gulf, South and Central America, and Europe have designated Hezbollah in its entirety.

The group, formed in 1982 by Iran to fight Israelis in Lebanon, continues to expand its power across the region and its arsenal of ballistic missiles and weapons.

The US designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group in 1997. Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) is responsible for one of the deadliest attacks on US troops on foreign soil and carried out multiple bombings against US marines, the US Embassy and the US Embassy in Lebanon.

Captagon and Bashar al-Assad

Narcotics trafficking, particularly with links to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, was also targeted in a separate measure this week.

Most of Captagon is produced in Syria and Lebanon and smuggled to its primary consumer market in the Gulf.

The HFAC voted on a measure to require a strategy by the US government “to disrupt and dismantle the Captagon trade and narcotics networks of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.”

The ‘‘Countering Assad’s Proliferation Trafficking And Garnering Of Narcotics Act’’ or the ‘‘CAPTAGON Act’’ would require the US secretaries of Defense, State, Treasury, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Director of National Intelligence to develop a way to dismantle the production and trafficking of the narcotic.

Congressman French Hill praised the passing of the Captagon Act. “These drugs not only cripple local populations, they also serve to fuel hostilities and finance the Assad regime and Iran-backed groups in the region,” Hill said in a statement. “The US government must do all it can to disrupt the industrial-level drug production currently taking place in Syria.”

The top Republican on the HFAC said the Captagon trade directly undermines US and international sanctions on the Assad regime. “The Administration needs to develop and implement a plan to stop production and trafficking of these drugs,” McCaul said.

Methods could include diplomatic and intelligence support by assisting and training law enforcement services in countries other than Syria, where Captagon is being transited.

If passed, the US government would be required to develop a manner where it could leverage cooperation with international partners to disrupt the narcotics infrastructure of the Assad regime.

The resolution also calls for a strategy to mobilize a “public communications campaign to increase awareness of the extent of the connection of the Assad regime to illicit narcotics trade.”

Both measures were passed as part of a larger “en bloc” voice vote that was unopposed by HFAC lawmakers.

  • alarabiya