Belgrade’s decision to declare Hezbollah in its entirety ‘a terrorist organisation’ is a purely diplomatic move – and does not reflect any previous security assessments, experts told BIRN.
The US has praised Serbia for its decision to designate the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in its entirety as a terrorist organisation, in line with commitments it undertook in Washington at the recent US-brokered meeting on normalizing economic ties with Kosovo.
Serbia’s key national security strategies and documents had not recognised Hezbollah as a threat until now, and the decision is generally understood as deferring to US interests.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had made a major move in joining the United States, Germany and Britain in a drive to quell Hezbollah’s activities.
“A big move by President Vucic,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter, adding that Hezbollah’s European operations were now collapsing. Serbian President Vucic, in turn, thanked Pompeo and said that Serbia would remain steadfast in its pursuit of peace and stability.
“Rest assured, dear friend, that we remain steadfast in the pursuit of peace and stability, thus contributing to global security,” Vucic wrote on Twitter.
Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim party and militant group, based in Lebanon. Founded during the 15-year Lebanese Civil War, it is especially known for its staunch opposition to Israel.
With a history of carrying out terrorist attacks, parts of Hezbollah – and in some cases the entire organization – have been designated as a terrorist group by the United States and some other countries.
Two EU countries, Germany and The Netherlands have designated Hezbollah’s entire organisation as a terrorist group. Germany made this decision in April 2020, after a long period of refusing to do so. Some experts see France as the main obstacle preventing the EU as a whole from following suit.
Experts say countries’ decisions to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation are often more of a friendly diplomatic act than a reflection of strategic realities.