The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will study on Thursday a draft-law that urges the European Union to designate Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” as a terrorist organization.
During five sessions on the Middle East, three of which will be dedicated to Iran, the Senate will also address Tehran’s human rights violations and oppression of religious minorities.
The draft-law directed to the EU was drafted by Democratic Congressman Theodore Deutch and focuses on “crimes and attacks of the terrorist ‘Hezbollah’.” It acknowledges that the EU designated the party’s military wing as a terrorist entity, but not the organization as a whole.
He stressed that “Hezbollah” is part of the illegal drug and arms trade and money-laundering networks throughout Europe. It is using funds generated from this activity to finance terrorist attacks. The party is also sponsored by Iran and Syria that finance it and provide its members with training and weapons.
According to US Defense Department officials, Tehran provides up to 200 million dollars a year to “Hezbollah” in the form of financial support, arms and training. The party has an arsenal of around 150,000 rockets and its fighters are supporting the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.
The draft-law calls on the EU to impose sanctions on terrorists associated with “Hezbollah” in line with the sanctions imposed by the US. It is also urged to designate the whole party as terrorist, issue arrest warrants against its members and backers, freeze its assets throughout Europe and ban any fundraising campaigns for the party.
The draft-law underlines the importance of achieving greater cooperation between the US and EU in thwarting “Hezbollah’s” criminal and terrorist activity and increasing the exchange of intelligence to that end.
The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will also study a draft-law submitted by Democrats and Republicans that calls on Iran to unconditionally release all American citizens its has imprisoned.
US citizen Robert Levinson traveled to Iran in 2007 and disappeared while visiting the island of Kish. For ten years, Washington has tried to pressure Iran to provide any information about his fate and ensure his safe return to his family. Iranian government officials had pledged to do so.