Friday, June 21, 2013

US cohabitation with Hezbollah Terrorism




Thursday, June 20, 2013

US cohabitation with Hezbollah Terrorism

US cohabitation with Hezbollah's Terrorism
Dr. Abdulaziz Sager*
(Published in Arab News, June 19, 2013)

In mid-December 2012, President Obama in an interview with ABC's Barbara
Walters tried to explain US policy toward the Syrian revolution, saying "Not
everybody who's participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who
we are comfortable with." This comment was a direct reference to the US
government's decision to designate the Syrian rebel group "al-Nusrah Front"
as a terrorist organization. It was amazing how fast and efficient the US
and European counter-terrorism authorities were in discovering that the
al-Nusrah Front is a terrorist group affiliated to al-Qaeda that deserves
swift punishment. Most Arab governments, and even the general public, raised
no objection to the US Administration's decision. Yet many thought that,
considering the criminal behavior of the Assad regime, evidence of al-Nusrah
practicing terrorism was not sufficient or convincing. It would appear that
as a Sunni Jihadi militia organization al-Nusrah was predestined to be
branded as a terrorist group by western governments.

The debate over whether al-Nusrah can be considered as a terrorist group and
a branch of al-Qaeda was over quickly after it was promptly included on both
the US and EU terrorist groups list, as well as on the UN Security Council
blacklist. Yet, deliberation is still continuing among the EU states on
listing Hezbollah as a terrorist group, with considerable and evident
hesitation. The fact is that both al-Nusrah and Hezbollah have been equally
accused of interfering in the Syrian internal conflict.

All terrorist groups must be faced with immediate and severe punitive
action, and the crime of terrorism must be fought regardless of sectarian,
religious, and nationalist pretexts. Yet, one has the right to wonder about
the double standards adopted by the US and its European allies toward
categorizing who deserves to be called a terrorist and who does not.
Recently, many thousands of Hezbollah militias with their heavy arms crossed
the Syrian international border to participate in the Assad's regime
bloodbath against the Syrian people, on the Syrian land. Does this not
amount to a terrorist act?

"Before al-Qaida's attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, Hezbollah was
responsible for killing more Americans in terrorist attacks than any other
terrorist group." These were precisely the words of the US Under-Secretary
for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen on August 10, 2012. He
told his audience that Hezbollah has "a long history of terrorist attacks
against American citizens and officials, including the bombing of the U.S.
Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon during the 1980s." He further added
that Hezbollah "quickly expanded its violent campaign on to a global stage,
carrying out and supporting terrorist attacks in South America, Southeast
Asia, Europe, and various countries in the Middle East. More recently one
has seen the group's plotting disrupted in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Thailand, and
Cyprus," and that "Hezbollah's members have engaged in criminal behavior,
including profiting from the narcotics and money-laundering schemes."

Yet the top counter-terrorism official in the Obama Administration focused
on Hezbollah's crimes against the US, overlooking the fact that the group
has practiced terrorism and intimidation against the people of Lebanon for
many years. Hezbollah's responsibility for the brutal assassination of the
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and possibly a dozen more similar
crimes, has been proven by a UN investigation team. In this context, most
Arabs are concerned about US double standards, with the US government
officially describing Hezbollah as a dangerous terrorist group on the one
hand, yet declining to treat it like other "terrorist groups." Indeed, if
one removes the word "Hezbollah" from the US Under-Secretary's statement we
will be mistaken that the top US official was referring to al-Qaida.

Does such strong US language bring any punitive consequences on the
Hezbollah group which has been on the US terrorist list since 1995? Does it
actually increase the pressure on Hezbollah in any practical way? While the
US has fully mobilized its military might and its intelligence apparatus,
along with thousands of US drones, determinedly chasing and hunting down
al-Qaeda's operatives from the jungles of Africa to the mountains of
Pakistan, and the deserts of Yemen, many thousands of Hezbollah's militia
members are crossing the Syrian international borders with their most
sophisticated and heavy weapons, in daylight, and even under the scrutiny of
the TV cameras.

This is happening while the US and its western allies are turning a blind
eye to Hezbollah which has been developed to operate as an effective
terrorist arm for the Iranian regime. The US's official classification of
Hezbollah as a "dangerous terrorist group" is no more than lip-service, mere
words unsupported by real conviction and lacking any real enforcement action
on the ground. Such hypocrisy and insincerity is deeply worrying. Soon after
the start of the Syrian revolt, Hezbollah successfully 'tested the waters'
and moved rapidly from providing logistical and operational support for the
Assad regime and its repression to actual participation in the bloodbath.
The Iranian and Hezbollah leadership rightly assumed that the US and its
allies are either unwilling or unable to stop or hinder Hezbollah's direct
involvement in the Syrian internal conflict. The US lack of resolve and
interest, which remains very evident, is seen in Tehran as a green light to
further pursue its agenda.

Today, the US and its western allies are shedding crocodile tears about the
atrocities committed against the civilian population in Syria, apparently
with the intention to deceive Arab and international public opinion.
President Obama rightly feels uncomfortable to share the ground with
al-Nusrah terrorist group. Yet, he seems comfortable to share it with the
Hezbollah terrorist group.
Dr. Abdulaziz Sager is the Chairman and founder of the Gulf Research Center


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