By Arab News
By Najia Houssari
Saudi Arabia on Thursday welcomed Germany’s decision to designate Iran-backed Hezbollah movement as a terrorist organization and ban it from the country.
The Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry described the move as an important step in the global battle against terrorism and urged the international community to follow suit.
Germany completely banned Hezbollah from carrying out activities on its soil, as police raided mosques and venues linked to the group.
Like the EU, Germany had until now only outlawed Hezbollah’s military wing while tolerating its political wing.
But in a shift immediately welcomed by the US and Israel, the German Interior Ministry said it now considered the entire movement a terrorist organization.
“Hezbollah is a terrorist organization deemed responsible for numerous attacks and kidnappings worldwide,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said.
The minister “has banned the operation of the group” in Germany with immediate effect, his spokesman tweeted. “Even in times of crisis the rule of law is upheld,” he wrote.
Bahrain said Germany’s move reflected its keenness to fight terrorist organizations, “regardless of who supports or funds them.”
It called on the international community to counter all forms of terrorism and consolidate international cooperation for more deterrent measures against all terrorist organizations that threaten international peace and security.
US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, welcomed Berlin’s change in stance and called on other EU countries to also ban Hezbollah’s activities, saying the group “cannot be allowed to use Europe as a safe haven to support terrorism in Syria and across the Middle East.”
Lebanon’s social media was inundated with comments accompanied by the hashtag “Hezbollah is a terrorist organization,” which became the country’s highest-trending hashtag.
One user wrote: “The road to Jerusalem does not pass through Germany,” while another one said: “He who destroyed Iraq and Lebanon will not free Palestine.”
A third said they hoped for Hezbollah to be classified as a terrorist organization in Lebanon and for the military to raid the homes of its members, its factories and its training fields.
Former MP Fares Souaid told Arab News: “Hezbollah burdens Lebanon politically, economically and financially in a way that the country cannot handle. We cannot stand against Germany, Saudi Arabia, Europe or the US.
“There are no compromises with Hezbollah. Either Lebanon becomes Hezbollah-free or we let it govern and we leave. We cannot coexist with an imposed policy.”
Although Hezbollah has no official presence in Germany, security forces estimate it has roughly 1,000 members in the country.