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Kuwait detains 18 people suspected of financing Lebanon's Hezbollah

Move comes as the diplomatic row between Lebanon and Gulf states rumbles on
The Kuwaiti Embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut. In October, Kuwait gave Lebanon's ambassador 48 hours to leave the emirate, a day after Saudi Arabia made a similar move over a minister's comments about its war in Yemen (AFP)

Kuwaiti prosecutors have detained 18 people suspected of financing Lebanon's Hezbollah, Lebanese media reported on Thursday.

Those detained will be held at the central prison for 21 days as ordered by prosecutors, who will continue to investigate allegations of "membership in a prohibited party, money laundering and spying".

Gulf states designated Iran-affiliated Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in 2016.

Saudi import ban spells more trouble for Lebanon's economy
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The move comes as part of a diplomatic row between Lebanon - currently struggling with one of the worst financial crises in recorded history - and Gulf states, which are looking to counter Hezbollah's influence on Lebanese politics.

Last month, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain expelled Lebanon’s diplomats after comments made by Information Minister George Kordahi about the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. Saudi Arabia also banned certain imports from Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said the measures precede the Lebanese minister’s comments and are aimed at countering Hezbollah's influence on the fragile Lebanese political system.

Kuwaiti tensions with Iran are not new. They date back to 2016, when Kuwait convicted a group for spying for Iran and Hezbollah, under Tehran’s watch. Iran denied any connection at the time.

Several of those convicted in 2016 were released earlier this month under a pardon issued by Kuwait’s ruling emir, as part of an amnesty aimed at defusing domestic tensions between the government and its opposition.

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