On April 30, Germany officially banned all Hezbollah activities in Germany. In a dramatic demonstration of its implementation, authorities stormed four mosques believed to have links to Lebanese terror groups.
Critics of Germany’s reluctance to make a difference between Hezbollah’s political and military wings, such as the German Jewish community and the Israeli government, be praised it is a long overdue policy. Others call it a partial step.
“Germany has taken a big step, and we are glad they did,” US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told JNS. Together with his embassy staff, he made the Hezbollah blacklist a top priority. The US State Department designated Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has long been pushed for Germany to ban groups.
The road to the Hezbollah ban
The move to ban Iranian-backed Shiite terror groups is more than a decade long in bureaucratic Germany.
The first step to organizational sanctions came in 2008, when Germany restricted al-Manar Hezbollah’s satellite station. In 2014, the country banned the alleged charity which was a guise for the Hezbollah Martyrdom Organization and the following year, the German Supreme Court ruled that Hezbollah was an organization that “disrupts global peace.”
Nonetheless, the German government and its main political parties appear to be delaying a full ban on the terror group.
At the Bundestag debate last June led by the right-wing Alternative to Deutschland (AfD), which introduced a motion to ban Hezbollah’s political arm, German lawmakers expressed collective humiliation for the Hezbollah genocide, an anti-Semitic goal but argued the ban might cause instability in Lebanon (where Hezbollah was a political player center) or that it must be a pan-European initiative. European Union. only recognizes Hezbollah’s so-called “military wing” as a terror organization. However, Europe and other EU. Countries, such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands register all organizations as terror groups.
Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) Member Beatrix Von Storch addressed the German MPs about proposals to completely ban Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. Source: Screenshot.
However, the push to ban began to gain momentum in December 2019, when the ruling coalition parties, the Christian Democratic Union / the Christian Socialist Union and the Socialist Democratic, and Free Democrats (FdP) passing a resolution is not binding on their own called on the government to ban Hezbollah activities.
“It is good that, after a clear decision from a joint movement in the Bundestag in December 2019, the Federal Ministry of the Interior finally became active and brought a ban on activities,” said MP Strasser, who said he and his party, the Free Democrats (FDP) spearheaded and encouraged movement.
Hezbollah ban must be ‘legally airtight’
Behind the scenes, Grenell and his embassy staff also worked to encourage Germany to make a ban. In the end, the decisive logic used by the US embassy focuses less on ethical, historical and political considerations, but on legal considerations.
According to a US official, embassy personnel had extensive discussions with German officials about how the ban was in line with the parameters of German federal law, the same law that justifies the prohibition of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Every Hezbollah ban must be legally airtight to avoid being challenged in court, which effectively, and permanently, can cancel it.
“They do everything they can under the law, and they will not operate outside the law,” U.S. officials said
Maintaining a legal letter – that is, freedom of assembly – seems to prevent the Berlin government from banning the annual Al Quds affiliated with Hezbollah, which is permitted under a strict ban on hate speech, burning Israeli flags, and waving the Hezbollah flag. One day on the same day when the German Minister of the Interior banned Hezbollah, organizers of Al Quds canceled a May 14 anti-Israel demonstration plan, which easily blamed the Corona pandemic.
US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell participated in the 74th anniversary of the release of the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp on April 14, 2019. Credit: US Embassy in Germany through Flickr.
According to the Berlin Interior department, the office had already begun checking, before cancellation, what legal steps could be taken to remove it from the streets of Berlin.
Berlin Interior Senator Andreas Geisel, who participated in a counter demonstration, said in a statement: “I do not want such anti-Semitic events to take place in Berlin. Therefore we exhaust all the constitutional possibilities to make things like this impossible in our city. “
Therefore, a true test of the German 40-page Hezbollah ban on the Al-Quds rally will be conducted next year (assuming there is no pandemic).
AfD, who calls himself a parliamentary champion for the death of Hezbollah in Germany, called the move insufficient.
“German law makes a difference between ‘Betätigungsverbot’ (Prohibition to Act) and ‘Organizational Verbot’ (Prohibition of Organizations),” said AfD MP Beatrix Von Storch, sponsor of the anti-Hezbollah movement in June. “The German government only introduced ‘Betätigungsverbot’ to Hezbollah. It prohibits Hezbollah to act, but this will not lead to the end of the Hezbollah organization in Germany. But it is important to destroy the organization of Hezbollah, seize the property and force its extremist members to leave Germany. “
According to US officials, the ban on activities and organizations is basically one and the same given that Hezbollah does not exist as a legal entity in Germany (as is the case with ISIS and Al-Qaeda.) Hezbollah ban on subscription activities for any and all associations, transactions, and assets that are incorporated with proven links to Hezbollah, including those in the digital field.
‘Not the beginning of the end’ for Hezbollah in Germany
The question now is how strong Germany will enforce the ban, said Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute specializing in Iran.
“Hezbollah will play the Three Monte cards with combat organizations and front groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood,” Rubin told JNS. “This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. The German authorities need to show their seriousness by continuing to close the front groups when they try to open. “
“I consider it very important that the Federal Government now does not sit down and do nothing,” said Strasser from FDP. “It must use the German E.U. The Board presidency in the second half of 2020 will arrive at Hezbollah’s new assessment at the European level as well.”
According to Benjamin Weinthal, a fellow for the Democratic Defense Foundation who has discussed the issue extensively, the next step is to impose sanctions on the main sponsor of Hezbollah, Iran. “That means pulling out of Iran’s highly flawed nuclear, joining US sanctions targeting Tehran, and not agreeing to allow Iran to buy weapons after an arms embargo on a rogue state ends in October,” he said, adding that Germany must further ban the Guard Corps Islamic Revolution, another terrorist entity designated by the US.
While Israel and the Jewish community, in addition to several German lawmakers, have rallied for the ban, credit, said Weinthal, is used for Grenell’s efforts, which will not stop here. Next: European Union.
“But now it is time for the rest of the EU to follow up and take an equally strong attitude,” Grenell said. “There is no doubt Hezbollah is a global threat. Germany has recognized this, and it’s time to ensure this terrorist organization does not have a safe place in Europe . “
Post Hezbol-Law: Behind the long-awaited ban on German terrorist organizations first appeared JNS.org.