In Commentary, Michael Totten writes:
A few weeks ago Britain decided to unfreeze “diplomatic relations” with Hezbollah, and the nonsensical phrases “political wing” and “military wing” have been used to describe the Iranian-backed militia ever since. Britain now says it’s okay to meet with members of Hezbollah’s “political wing” while maintaining the blacklisting of its “military wing,” but these “wings” don’t exist in any meaningful sense. If Hezbollah were actually two distinct entities with separate policies it might make sense for British diplomats to do business with one and not the other, but that’s not how Hezbollah is structured. Of course Hezbollah’s fighters and members of parliament aren’t the same individuals, but Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah is the leader of the entire organization.
The Obama Administration knows better. One U.S. official wants Britain to explain “the difference between the political, social and military wings of Hezbollah because we don’t see the difference between the integrated leadership that they see.” “The US does not distinguish between military, cultural and political wings of Hezbollah,” another U.S. official said, “and our decision to avoid making such a distinction is premised on accurate available information indicating that all Hezbollah wings and branches share finances, personnel and unified leadership and they all support violence.”…
In his post “Winging it”, Dave Rich says:
…When the FCO tries to explain its new policy to Middle Eastern audiences it is met with utter incomprehension. Bill Rammell went on al-Jazeera on 13th March, to discuss it with Dr. Sami Khiyami, the Syrian ambassador to the UK, and Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghouti. First the presenter, Sami Haddad, explained to Bill Rammell that Hezbollah is “an Islamic movement and a religious creed, that the scholars and men of religion control this movement, and therefore, there is no difference between the political and military wings to them.” Then, when Rammell insisted that there is a difference, he was contradicted by Khiyami: “there is no difference between the political wing and the military wing of Hezbollah.”
You could forgive Syria and Hezbollah for assuming that the attempt to create an artificial division within Hezbollah is just another example of the FCO’s long tradition of divide and rule in the Middle East. If it is, nobody is falling for it this time.
Hezbollah is not like the IRA and Sinn Fein, two ostensibly different but connected organisations. Nor is it like Hamas, which, until relatively recently, maintained a cosmetic separation between Hamas itself and its military wing, the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades. Pretty much every serious analysis of Hezbollah has come to the conclusion that all of its activities – military, political, social, welfare, educational and media – form a single organisation under a single unified leadership….
The British government isn’t fooling anyone but themselves. Rich concludes:
…This is not just about foreign policy. The FCO has significant input into domestic counter-radicalisation work under the Prevent programme. This is one reason why Hezbollah MP Hussein el-Hajj Hassan was allowed into the UK this week.
Divide and rule in Lebanon is one thing. Do we really need the FCO doing the same in London?