Lebanese deported from Bahrain in GCC Hezbollah crackdown

#GCC

Saudi Arabia also threatens 'severe penalties' against anyone associated with Shia movement now classified by Gulf states as terrorist group

Supporters of Lebanon's Shia movement Hezbollah chant slogans during a televised speech by its leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern town of Insar, in the Nabatiyeh district on 6 March 2016 (AFP)
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Monday 14 March 2016 12:32 UTC
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The Gulf kingdom of Bahrain has deported several Lebanese residents for links to the Hezbollah movement, the interior ministry said on Monday.

"A number of Lebanese residents have been deported after it was confirmed that they belonged to and supported terrorist Hezbollah," the ministry said in a statement posted on its Twitter account.

The ministry did not provide any further details, including on the number of people involved. Lebanese press reported last week that up to 10 families had been ordered to leave Bahrain within 24 hours.

The move was the latest in a series of anti-Hezbollah measures undertaken by the Gulf states and the Arab League, which classified the Lebanon-based Shia movement as a terrorist organisation this month.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia vowed to punish its citizens and expatriates who are affiliated to the Iran-backed Hezbollah, or show any support or sympathy for it.

A statement by the Saudi interior ministry said that Saudis and expatriates would be subjected to "severe penalties" under the country's regulations and anti-terrorism laws. Foreigners would be deported, it said.

"Any citizens or expatriates who endorse, show loyalty to the so-called Hezbollah, sympathize with it, promote it, donate to it, communicate with it or house or cover those who belong to it will be subjected to the severe penalties stated in the regulations and orders, including the regulation on crimes of terrorism and its financing, in addition to the deportation of any expatriates found guilty of such actions," the statement said.

Translation: Unfortunately the sectarian struggle has affected the decisions of other countries. How much will this decision work in the interest of the Zionists?

Saudi Arabia cut off $3 bn worth of military aid to Lebanon last month, citing "hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state".

A Saudi official also pointed out the Lebanese government's refusal to condemn the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Iran, Saudi's regional rival, in January.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has stepped up criticism of Saudi Arabia, accusing it of directing car bombings in Lebanon.

The Sunni-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council declared Hezbollah a terrorist group on 2 March, which the secretary-general Abdullatif al-Zayani said was due the "hostile actions of the militia who recruit the young people (of the Gulf)".

The Arab League echoed the GCC last Friday, a day after the appointment of its new head Ahmed Abu al-Gheit, the former Egyptian foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak's government.

Translation: All of the Gulf countries should expel the Lebanese embassies and deport [Lebanese] citizens, and shut down their own embassies in Lebanon