KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Arab states in the Gulf plan to deport thousands of Lebanese Shiites over their alleged links to Hezbollah and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard force, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Thursday.
Al-Seyassah, quoting London-based Arab diplomatic sources, said the measure was being considered because of intelligence reports that Lebanese Shiites activists had been involved in protests in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Based on the assessments by the United States, France and Bahrain, alleged Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard agents were leading the protests along with local Shiite clerics in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, it said.
It said Bahrain’s decision to suspend flights to Iran, Iraq and Lebanon and its condemnation of remarks by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had “paved the way for the deportation of thousands of Lebanese Shiites from the Gulf.”
“No Lebanese Shiite linked to or suspected of being associated with Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards will remain in the Gulf,” the diplomatic sources said, citing high-ranking Bahraini officials.
Bahrain is preparing to deport 90 Lebanese Shiites, most of them arrested during the Shiite-led, pro-democracy in the kingdom, and is examining the status of 4,000 Lebanese families living in the Gulf kingdom, the sources said.
Last week, Bahraini authorities carried out a bloody crackdown on the protesters who have been demanding political reforms since February 14 in the tiny Shiite-majority, Sunni-ruled kingdom.
The crackdown came hours after a Saudi-led joint Gulf force rolled into Bahrain to back up the regime, a move condemned by Shiite Iran and the head of Lebanon’s Shiite militant Hezbollah who has offered to help the demonstrators.
On top of the suspension of flights to Beirut by its two national carriers, Manama has advised Bahraini citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon, a popular destination for wealthy Gulf Arabs.
“Due to threats and interference by terrorists,” the Bahraini foreign ministry said on Tuesday it “warns and advises its citizens not to travel to the Republic of Lebanon as they might face dangers threatening their safety.”