WASHINGTON — The White House is applauding the European Union’s decision to label the military wing of Hezbollah a terrorist group.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says it sends a clear message that there are consequences for the Lebanese group’s terrorist activities, including a deadly attack last year in a Bulgarian resort and a plot to kill Israelis in Cyprus.
Carney says the EU decision will allow European officials to crack down on Hezbollah’s fundraising, logistics and terror plots in Europe.
He says Hezbollah threatens global stability. He’s specifically mentioning Hezbollah’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The EU’s 28 foreign ministers reached the decision unanimously on Monday. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah plays a pivotal role in Lebanese politics and has sent members to bolster Assad’s forces in their assault of rebel-held areas.
US Secretary of State John Kerry joined the White House in “applauding” the EU for what he described as an “important step.”
Kerry emphasized that the new designation “will have a significant impact on Hezbollah’s ability to operate freely in Europe by enabling European law enforcement agencies to crack down on Hezbollah’s fundraising, logistical activity, and terrorist plotting on European soil.”
The secretary of state cited the terror organization’s Burgas, Bulgaria bombing as well as Hezbollah’s “deepened” support for “the brutal Assad regime.” Hezbollah, he said, has “worked to expand its global reach through increased involvement in international criminal schemes and terrorist plots around the world.”
Kerry noted that “a growing number of governments are recognizing Hezbollah as the dangerous and destabilizing terrorist organization that it is” and called on other governments “to follow the EU’s lead, and to take steps to begin reining in Hezbollah’s terrorist and criminal activities.”
During a State Department press briefing Monday afternoon, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki clarified that the United States, unlike the EU, views all of Hezbollah as a terror organization.