A senior German official said Friday that Berlin will not follow the United Kingdom in outlawing Lebanon’s Hezbollah as a terror group in its entirety.
Niels Annen, a minister of state at the German foreign ministry, told magazine Der Spiegel that Hezbollah is an important element in Lebanon’s society and that Germany’s interest is Lebanon’s security, according to Reuters.
He also noted that the European Union currently designates Hezbollah’s military wing as a terror organization and said neither the EU and Germany’s stance would be influenced by the UK’s decision to proscribe the Lebanese group’s political arm.
Annen spoke with the German weekly after visiting Lebanon, where he met with the country’s president and prime minister.
Prime Minister @saadhariri received me today at the @grandserail. Very productive meeting about the governments economic agenda, attracting more German investments, @UNIFIL_ and regional issues. ????????????????@almaniadiplo @GermanEmbBeirut @GermanyOnMENA pic.twitter.com/14vyED0I7k
— Niels Annen ???????? (@NielsAnnen) March 6, 2019
Ahead of the move last month to ban Hezbollah in its entirety, top British ministers said no such difference between the Shiite group’s military and political branches exists and accused it of destabilizing the Middle East.
The move was welcomed by the United States and Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling his British counterpart Theresa May that he expects other countries to follow suit.
The UK ban came after the powerful Shiite group was included as part of Lebanon’s new government. While the cabinet is headed by Saad Hariri, a Western-backed Sunni politician who has held the job since 2016, Hezbollah made significant gains at the expense of the largest Sunni party and now controls three government ministries.
In January, the US ambassador to Lebanon described what she labeled as Hezbollah’s “growing” role in the new Lebanese cabinet as a threat to the country’s stability, while Netanyahu said the inclusion of the Iran-backed group in Lebanon’s government showed Tehran was calling the shots there.
Following the UK’s blacklisting of Hezbollah and with the US ramping up sanctions, the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah called for donations Friday from supporters.
“The sanctions and terror lists are a form of warfare against the resistance and we must deal with them as such,” Nasrallah said.
“I announce today that we are in need of the support of our popular base,” Nasrallah added. “It is the responsibility of the Lebanese resistance, its popular base, its milieu,” to confront these measures.
Nasrallah said he expects US sanctions “to get tighter on us and our supporters.”