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GCC turns screws on Hezbollah supporters
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 21 - 06 - 2013

BEIRUT — With Qatar deporting at least 18 Lebanese citizens and Saudi Arabia disclosing plans to expel Hezbollah movement supporters, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Thursday tightened its noose on the Shiite militia for its role in the Syrian conflict.
“Eighteen Lebanese have been expelled from Qatar, in the wake of the GCC decision,” a Qatari government source said in Beirut, saying it was not clear if they were Hezbollah members.
The Qatari decision comes as Saudi Arabia said it was planning to deport Lebanese citizens who support Hezbollah.
The warning comes amid Hezbollah's increasingly prominent participation in the Syrian conflict, with members of the group fighting on the side of President Bashar Al-Assad's government forces.
Saudi Arabia will deport “those who financially support this party,” Kingdom's Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Assiri told Future TV late Wednesday. He added that Hezbollah bears full responsibility for the GCC restrictive measures.
The GCC — which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates — earlier this month said they would revoke residency permits for Hezbollah members in the Gulf and limit their “financial and business transactions.”
For its part, Hezbollah says it has no businesses in the Gulf nations. However, there are more than half a million Lebanese working in the Gulf nations, including tens of thousands in Saudi Arabia.
“This is a serious decision and will be implemented in detail whether by the embassy (in Beirut) or in the Kingdom,” Assiri said, without specifying when the deportations would begin. “The aim is not to humiliate Lebanese citizens or make them kneel. Acts are being committed against innocent Syrian people.”
Lebanon's Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour told reporters Thursday he was in contact with Gulf officials over the matter and that he rejects “charges that Hezbollah will be made responsible for the deportations, in case they happen.”
Meanwhile, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has called on the Hezbollah to pull its fighters out of Syria, saying any further involvement in its neighbor's civil war would fuel instability in Lebanon.
Hezbollah militants spearheaded the recapture of the strategic border town of Qusayr two weeks ago by forces loyal to Al-Assad, which now appear to be preparing for an offensive in the northern city of Aleppo.
“If they take part in a battle for Aleppo, and more Hezbollah fighters are killed, it will lead to more tension,” Suleiman told the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir in an interview. “This should end in Qusayr, and (Hezbollah) should return home.” — Agencies

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