Germany has ruled out designating Hezbollah, an Iran-backed group, as a terrorist organization, a move likely to cause friction with the U.S. government after the Trump administration urged European countries to put pressure on the Iranian regime.
The decision came in the wake of the United Kingdom’s declaration last month that all wings of Hezbollah are banned in the country and are designated as part of the terror group responsible for destabilizing the Middle East.
“Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East, and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party,” Britain’s home secretary Sajid Javid said.
The United Stated declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 1997.
But Minister of State Niels Annen told Der Spiegel on Friday Germany won’t follow suit as Hezbollah’s political wing remains an important force in Lebanese society, according to Reuters.
He noted that the military wing of Hezbollah has been classified by the European Union as a terror group since 2013.
Hezbollah was founded in 1982 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and has been responsible for dozens of terror attacks across the world. It particularly focuses on Israel and clashed with its military.
Its political wing, albeit closely aligned with its militant part of the organization, currently holds three out of 30 government ministries in Lebanon, the outlet reported.
In a renewed effort to curb the Iranian influence across the world, the Trump administration began pushing European countries, all of which still remain subscribed to the nuclear accord with Tehran, to ban Hezbollah.
The terror group said earlier this month that the UK’s ban was an “insult” to the Lebanese people and accused the country of being subservient to the U.S.
It also said in a statement that Hezbollah is both a “resistance” movement against Israeli occupation and a political and popular force with representatives in the Lebanese parliament and government – thus rejecting the UK’s ban.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.