Hezbollah slams German ban as "submission to America’s will"

The head of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement on Monday condemned Germany's ban on his group as bowing to U.S. pressure and insisted it was not active in the country. Last Thursday Germany designated Hezbollah a "Shia terrorist organisation" as its security forces raided mosques and associations linked to the group.

In a televised speech, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah called it a "political decision that reflects Germany's submission to America's will and to pleasing Israel".

"When we say we are not active in Germany, we are being 100 percent honest," said the leader of the Iranian-backed group.

Hezbollah was established in 1982 during the Lebanese civil war and fought a devastating 2006 war with Israel. The U.S. and Israel have long designated it a terrorist group and urged allies to follow suit.

Like the European Union, Germany had until now outlawed only Hezbollah's military wing while tolerating its political arm, a major force in the Lebanese parliament.

Nasrallah on Monday said he expected more EU countries to follow Germany's example. The Hezbollah chief also condemned German authorities for raiding mosques and associations linked to the group and called on the Lebanese government to protect its nationals in Germany.

Rescue plan "a big step forward"

Nasrallah's speech came days after the Lebanese government approved a long-awaited plan that was used to apply for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme to help the country through an acute economic crisis. 

Responding to the crisis plan, Nasrallah said it was a "big, important step". But he warned that any talks with the IMF must not blindly surrender the country to terms it cannot bear.

Nasrallah said local banks had made huge profits over the years and must now step in to help. He urged the government, which signed a request for IMF assistance last week, to find solutions for the weakening local currency and sky-rocketing prices.    (FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)