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Euro-MPs Bid To Have Hizbullah Listed As Terrorist.

Members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) on Sept. 16 launched a campaign to have Hizbullah listed as a terrorist group by the 27-statebloc. They circulated a "written declaration" seeking to have Hizbullah added to the EU terror list, which includes al-Qaeda and several Palestinian groups. Hizbullah is still not considered a terrorist group by most Western states. Only the US, Israel, Canada and Holland have officially listed Hizbullah as a terrorist organisation. Australia and Britain label only Hizbullah's armed wing as terrorist. Other states do not keep an official list of designated terrorist groups, but have expressed concerns over Hizbullah's activities.

Hizbullah's political wing has MPs and holds one seat in the cabinet. It participates in municipal government and undertakes many social development projects. It did much of the reconstruction work in the south, Beirut's Shi'ite suburbs and the Beqa' after the 2006 war. But MEPs argue that Hizbullah's political power in Lebanon is precisely the reason it should be added to the black-list. Portuguese socialist MEP Paulo Casaca told reporters in Brussels: "If it was only a number of lunatics, it would not be as dangerous". Czech MEP Jana Hybaskova released a statement on behalf of the largest grouping in the EUP, the far-right European People's Party, saying Hizbullah represented a serious threat to EU citizens, adding: "Since the 1980s, more than 90 European citizens have been killed in terror attacks committed by the terrorist organisation Hizbullah. Experts on terrorism say that Europe is at risk of a terrorist attack and I wonder why Hizbullah is only on the UK and Dutch lists of terrorist groups and not on the EU's...jeopardizing the lives of European citizens". (Hybaskova chairs the EUP's delegation to Israel and co-sponsored the written declaration). If Hizbullah were designated terrorist by the bloc, it would see its financial assets in the EU frozen and its fund-raising in EU states disrupted.

Russian Reviving Naval Base In Syria: Moscow on Sept. 12 said it was renovating Syria's port of Tartus for use by the Russian fleet in what signals an effort for a better foothold in the Mediterranean. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has increasingly reached out to Russia recently, including seeking weapons and offering broader military co-operation. The Sept. 12 news was the first tangible sign of new co-operation - a version of the Friendship & [strategic] Co-operation Treaty signed in 1971 between the Soviet Union and Syria which died with the collapse of the USSR in late 1991.

The Itar-Tass news agency reported on Sept. 12 that a vessel from Russia's Black Sea fleet had begun restoring facilities at Tartus for use by the Russian military. The two countries' naval chiefs on Sept. 12 met in Moscow and discussed "further strengthening mutual trust and mutual understanding between the two states' fleets", a Russian naval official, Igor Dygalo, told Itar-Tass.

Russian experts say Tartus would be a big boost for operations in the Mediterranean. Former Black Sea Fleet commander Adm Eduard Baltin on Sept. 12 said: "It is much more advantageous to have such a facility [in Tartus] than to return ships patrolling the Mediterranean to their home bases". The former first deputy commander of the Russian Navy, Adm Igor Kasatonov, said Tartus was "of great geo-political significance considering that it is the only such Russian [naval] facility abroad".

Whether a renewed strategic alliance between Damascus and Moscow will affect Syria's partnership with Tehran remains to be seen. Despite Moscow's warming relations with Tehran in the current Russia-US tensions and each of the US, NATO and the EU, PM Vladimir Putin remains committed to a pledge that his government will prevent Iran from producing or purchasing atomic weapons.

On Sept. 17, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mu'allem said the fifth round of indirect peace negotiations between Syria and Israel, being mediated by Turkey, was postponed at the request of the Israeli government due to leadership elections within the ruling Kadima party. The round was to begin on Sept. 18. But it seems there will be little or no change of policy by the next Israeli government. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni won the party leadership elections on Sept. 17 and thus she will head the next Israeli cabinet (see below).
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Title Annotation:members of parliament
Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Sep 22, 2008
Previous Article:Back To The Unrest In Lebanon.
Next Article:US Hits Russia.

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