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Iran condemns UK for listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization

Published: Updated:

Iran criticized Britain for its decision to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, saying on Saturday it ignored the Tehran-backed group’s role in fighting ISIS.

Britain said on Monday it planned to ban all wings of Hezbollah, which is deemed a terrorist organization by Washington, due to its destabilizing influence in the Middle East, having previously proscribed its external security unit and its military wing.

“This British measure signifies deliberately ignoring a large part of the Lebanese people and the legitimacy and the legal position of Hezbollah in Lebanon’s administrative and political structure,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Hezbollah condemned the decision on Friday, saying the move showed “servile obedience” to the United States.

“In addition to ... helping preserve Lebanon’s territorial integrity over recent decades, Hezbollah has been one of the pillars of the fight against terrorism and terrorist groups such as Islamic State in the region,” Qasemi added.

Jay Solomon, a veteran US journalist, told Al Arabiya on Friday that there will likely be a split in European countries’ response to Britain’s decision to ban Lebanese Hezbollah group and classify it as a terrorist organization.

The author of The Iran Wars said that Hezbollah, the Lebanese government, and the Iranians might try to “drive a wedge between certain European countries, and split the British from the rest of the powers in Europe in order to keep operating as they have.”

Solomon, who is currently an adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, added that most European countries will not follow Britain’s decision in order to avoid complications with Iran and keep up trade, despite US sanctions and a pull for a more “direct conflict with Iran.”

He said that the countries in Central and Eastern Europe would be more likely to build a coalition against Iran and classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

He added that the United Kingdom’s decision is important in terms of maintaining its “diplomatic relations” with the US and limiting Iran’s trade with Europe.

The Trump administration has “turned the screws more, the financial screws particularly, on Iran and its allies, including Hezbollah”, Solomon said.

The decision will increase pressure on Hezbollah, both financially and diplomatically, and in turn, impact the Lebanese government.