Qatar expels 18 Lebanese citizens after GCC pledge against Hezbollah
Published Thursday, June 20, 2013
At least 18 Lebanese citizens have been expelled from Qatar, a government source in Beirut told AFP Thursday, after the Gulf Cooperation Council pledged to act against members of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.
"Eighteen Lebanese have been expelled from Qatar, in the wake of the GCC decision," the source said on condition of anonymity, saying it was not clear if they were Hezbollah members.
On June 10, the GCC, to which Qatar belongs, said it would implement measures affecting the "residency permits and financial and commercial transactions of Hezbollah" in response to the group's involvement in the conflict in Syria.
The GCC statement urged the Lebanese government to "assume its responsibilities towards the behavior of Hezbollah and its illegal and inhumane practices in Syria and the region."
The bloc, which backs the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The decision stirred fears among the many Lebanese who work in the Gulf of being sanctioned by their host countries.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Awwad Assiri, was asked on Thursday if his country would move to expel Lebanese citizens, but said only that the GCC decision "affects those who support Hezbollah."
"Hezbollah has erred against itself, its sect and its country. This decision affects those who have been deceived (by Hezbollah)," he told Lebanon's Future TV.
While the GCC has condemned Hezbollah's involvement in the Syrian conflict, Gulf countries have provided substantial funding and ammunition to Syrian rebels. A memo leaked in January revealed that Saudi Arabia was also sending death row inmates to fight jihad in Syria.