Blaming Hezbollah for international terrorism and fighting on the side of the Syrian regime, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird welcomed the European Union's decision Monday to outlaw the group's "military wing."
Although Canada outlawed the Lebanese Shi'ite group in 2002, European governments resisted. But Hezbollah's role in the Syrian conflict and evidence it bombed tourists in Bulgaria and attempted a similar strike in Cyprus prompted the EU to act.
The decision, which followed lobbying by Britain and the Netherlands, along with Canada, the U.S. and Israel, meant assets tied to Hezbollah militants would be frozen in 28 European nations, depriving the group of the ability to raise funds on the continent.
"Hezbollah's foiled plot in Cyprus and its tragic bombing of a tourist bus in Bulgaria last year are but two examples of Hezbollah's growing global reach," Mr. Baird said in a statement after the decision was announced n Brussels.
"It has long played a destabilizing role around the world, and in close partnership with the regressive, clerical dictatorship of Iran actively assists [Syrian President Bashar] Assad in the brutal murder of countless civilians in Syria."
But the ban applies only to the so-called "military wing" of Hezbollah. Canadian anti-terrorism law does not recognize the existence of distinct military and political branches of Hezbollah, since both report to the same leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.
"The decision is a good start but it ignores the reality that Hezbollah is not a two-winged organization neatly divided between political and military arms," said Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
B'nai Brith Canada called the decision to list only the military wing misguided. "While some may view this as a positive step, giving false legitimacy to Hezbollah's supposedly non-violent wings only serves to weaken international efforts to combat terror and strengthens Iran's global ambitions," CEO Frank Dimant said.