Australia has announced it’s intention to add the Lebanese group Hezbollah to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations, alongside the far-right extremist group The Base, extending a ban on armed factions to the entire movement, which wields considerable power over Lebanon.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews in a televised announcement explained that the Tehran-backed Shiite group continues to threaten terrorist attacks and provide support to terrorist organisations” which poses real and credible threat to Australia.
Hezbollah is part political party and part militia — the only group in Lebanon to have refused to disarm since the civil war ended in 1990.
The movement, which plays a pivotal role in Lebanese politics, has been accused of fuelling Syria’s civil war by sending thousands of fighters across the border to prop up President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
In 2006, it fought a short yet devastating war against Israel.
Critics have accused the movement of killing former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, and more recently of blocking investigations into the cataclysmic 2020 Beirut port explosion.
Some countries have sought to distinguish between Hezbollah’s political and militant factions, fearing a blanket ban could further destabilise Lebanon and hamper contacts with authorities.
From now, membership of the entire organisation or providing funding for it will now be proscribed in Australia, which has a large Lebanese community.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has appreciated his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison for the move.