Turkey not planning to designate Hezbollah terrorist group

Arab World Materials 2 August 2013 09:35 (UTC +04:00)
Turkey not planning to designate Hezbollah terrorist group
Turkey not planning to designate Hezbollah terrorist group

Turkey does not have any plans to designate the Iran-affiliated Lebanese Hezbollah group, which has been directly involved in the Syrian civil war on the side of the regime, a terrorist group after the EU recently decided to designate the "armed wing" of Hezbollah as a terrorist group Today`s Zaman reported.

Turkish diplomatic sources have noted that designating groups as terrorist is not common practice in Turkish foreign policy.

"We condemn the terrorist activities individually. But there is no such list by Turkey for terrorist groups," the sources said.

"Turkey is only bound to the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council on terrorism," the same sources noted.

Turkey has undertaken all measures to freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets and economic resources of designated individuals and entities that were defined in a number of UN Security Council resolutions, namely Resolution 1267, Resolution 1988 and Resolution 1989.

The EU this month declared the military wing of Lebanese party Hezbollah a terrorist group in a move that is seen as a protest against Hezbollah's involvement in the Syrian civil war on the side of the regime.

The EU's separation of the Hezbollah party in Lebanon into an "armed wing" and a "political wing" seems to be a "fine tuning" move to avoid blacklisting the political activity of Hezbollah, a legal political organization in Lebanon.

The blacklisting would mean imposing visa bans on individuals and freezing the assets of organizations associated with the group. But the implementation would be complicated since officials would have to unravel the links between the different wings within Hezbollah's organizational network and see who could be targeted for belonging to the military wing.

Mehmet Ozcan, the chairman of the Ankara Strategy Institute, said that even if Turkey took such a step to designate the party a terrorist group, this would not impose any legal pressure on Hezbollah. "This [blacklisting] does not have a legal precedent in Turkey, so this would be an application that would hang in the air," Ozcan maintained.

Ozcan also said that Turkey's blacklisting of Hezbollah would further increase the country's alienation in the Middle East.

"Turkey has distanced itself from Tehran and Baghdad due to the Syrian crisis. If Turkey took such a clear position against Hezbollah, its ability to maneuver in the Middle East would be further limited," he noted. "Turkey's policy in the Middle East would be more and more perceived as a sectarian policy if it also falls out with Hezbollah after Tehran and Baghdad," Ozcan added.

After Hezbollah's direct involvement, the ongoing Syrian war has taken on a more sectarian tone, and Turkey has become very concerned with such an involvement by the organization. Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has directed harsh criticism at the Lebanese group due to this involvement, stating that Hezbollah is conducting a bloody campaign against innocent civilians to keep the Syrian regime alive and should thus change its name to Hezb al-Shaitan -- the Party of Satan. Hezbollah means the "Party of God."

However, if Turkish authorities want Hezbollah to pay a higher price, they should investigate Hezbollah-linked circles and organizations within Turkey, Ozcan noted. "Turkey should start a de facto effort against Hezbollah, a group that definitely uses terrorism, in order to prevent any money flows or other sorts of support to the organization from Turkey," he added.