Kuwait to deport 60 Lebanese for alleged Hezbollah links
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Kuwait to deport 60 Lebanese for alleged Hezbollah links

EU reportedly looking into blacklisting Shiite group as Gulf states press sanctions

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah addressing supporters via satellite link during a rally in the southern Lebanese border village of Aita in August 2013. (photo credit: AP/Mohammed Zaatari)
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah addressing supporters via satellite link during a rally in the southern Lebanese border village of Aita in August 2013. (photo credit: AP/Mohammed Zaatari)

Kuwait is to deport 60 Lebanese for alleged links to Hezbollah in the latest Gulf Arab move against the Shiite militant group, a newspaper reported on Monday.

Those to be deported all had permanent residency, which has been revoked, the Al-Qabas daily said.

Those classified as “dangerous cases” were given just two days to leave the country, it added.

It is the second wave of deportations from Kuwait reported since Gulf Arab states blacklisted Hezbollah as a “terrorist” group earlier this month.

Last week, Al-Qabas reported that 11 Lebanese and three Iraqis had been deported for alleged links to the group.

Around 50,000 Lebanese live and work in the oil-rich emirate, providing remittances that are vital to the domestic economy.

The terror blacklisting was the latest step taken by Gulf states, led by Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia, against Hezbollah, the leading force in Lebanon’s governing bloc which is backed by Riyadh’s Shiite rival Tehran.

Last month, Saudi Arabia halted a $3 billion program of military aid to Lebanon to protest what it said was “the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state.”

It also urged its citizens to leave Lebanon and avoid travelling there.

Qatar and Kuwait followed with similar travel advisories, while the United Arab Emirates banned its nationals from travel to Lebanon.

Hezbollah is fighting in support of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad against Gulf-backed rebel fighters and extremist militants.

Earlier this month, the Arab League voted to blacklist Hezbollah as a terror group as well.

However, former Egyptian minister Sameh Shoukry said the move was likely symbolic and wasn’t expected to lead to any changes on the ground.

Condemnation of Hezbollah has been mostly limited to Sunni Gulf states, but a report in another Kuwaiti daily Tuesday indicated that the EU is also seeking to blacklist Hezbollah, after putting its military wing on the terror blacklist in 2013.

The move, reported by Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassah, will allow the EU to further implement sanctions against the Lebanese movement, such as freezing assets connected to it in Europe.

Israel has been pushing for the EU to blacklist Hezbollah since a 2012 bombing in Bulgaria against Israeli citizens blamed on the group.

There was no official confirmation of the report.

The latest moves against Hezbollah by the Arab league and the Gulf nations reflect an emerging solidarity of opinion between the US, Israel and the Sunni Arab world.

The Saudi decision to cut aid to Lebanon is expected to pile further difficulties on the already hard-pressed Lebanese economy.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad listening to a question during an interview with AFP in the capital Damascus, February 11, 2016. (AFP/JOSEPH EID)
Syrian President Bashar Assad listening to a question during an interview with AFP in the capital Damascus, February 11, 2016. (AFP/JOSEPH EID)

Other Gulf states have also taken measures against alleged Hezbollah supporters since the terror blacklisting.

Bahrain said it had deported several Lebanese residents for alleged links to the group.

Saudi security forces arrested a Shiite preacher accused of glorifying the group, the kingdom’s Al-Watan newspaper reported last week.

And the United Arab Emirates has reportedly put seven people on trial for allegedly forming a cell linked to Hezbollah.

Daniel Douek contributed to this report.

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