A group of 27 prominent French figures has called on French President Emmanuel Macron to declare the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement a terrorist organisation and not to block European Union efforts to blacklist the group.
The call was published by French daily Le Figaro as Macron visited Beirut for the second time in one month following the explosions in the Lebanese capital’s port which claimed the lives of almost two hundred people and mutilated thousands of others.
The signatories of the petition included former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, former Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, former Environment Minister and party leader Corinne Lepage and philosopher and novelist Pascal Bruckner.
The petition highlights Hezbollah’s nefarious role in Lebanon, which they said rendered any reforms in the country virtually impossible: “During the last twenty years, Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, has avowedly created a state within the state and established itself as a substitute for the Lebanese army,” they said, calling on the international community to “recognize the major problem that is constituted by Hezbollah’s in the country’s reconstruction.”
The signatories also stressed Hezbollah’s destabilizing influence in the region and the world. “Hezbollah increasingly and without any scruples exerts its power of nuisance in Lebanon at the same time that it weighs on regional, European, and intentional security,” they said.
The petition describes the Shi’a group as “an actor with regional ambitions whose power and resources emanate from the outside, especially from Iran and asked the French president to not block “the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation by the EU.” “This is not a form of interference .. but is part of our global struggle against terrorism”
“Without a firm condemnation of Hezbollah, France’s action, in trying to lend support to an old friend in the region, would be futile,” concluded the signatories.
Despite Germany’s move earlier this year to ban Hezbollah entirely, France is the only ‘big’ EU member state to continue vehemently to refuse to recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. It is still making an artificial differentiation between Hezbollah’s ‘’military’’ and ‘’political” wings.
The French position, which is based on the fact that Paris ‘wants to maintain a dialogue with a political force in Lebanon,’ prevents the EU as a bloc to blacklist Hezbollah as a whole and not only its ‘military wing’.