CANBERRA: Australia on Wednesday listed all of Hezbollah as a “terrorist organisation”, extending an existing ban on armed units to the entire organisation, which wields considerable power over Lebanon.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews claimed the Iran-backed Shi’ite group “continues to threaten terrorist attacks and provide support to terrorist organisations” and poses a “real” and “credible” threat to Australia.
Hezbollah has been designated as a terrorist group by parts of the West, although some countries have been reluctant to sanction the group’s political wing, fearing it could destabilise Lebanon and hamper contacts with authorities.
Hezbollah defies easy definition — acting as part political party, part militant organisation and part provider of basic services to Lebanon’s Shiite community.
It is the only side that has to date refused to disarm since the country’s devastating civil war ended in 1990.
Membership of the organisation or providing funding for it will now be proscribed in Australia, which has a large Lebanese community.
No reason was given for the timing of the move, which comes as Lebanon reels from spiralling political and economic crises.
Nearly 80 percent of the population is estimated to be living below the poverty line.
Elections are expected in March 2022 and there is growing public anger about nepotism and corruption among Lebanon’s ruling class.
Andrews also announced that Australia would be listing the far-right group The Base.
“They are a violent, racist neo-Nazi group known by security agencies to be planning and preparing terrorist attacks,” Andrews said.