Beirut, Lebanon – Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi has ordered the deportation of non-Lebanese members of Bahraini Shia opposition group Al-Wefaq which has been outlawed in Bahrain since 2016.
On Wednesday, Mawlawi, in a call with his Bahraini counterpart Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, refused to have Lebanon being used as a “platform for spreading hatred or hostility” towards Gulf and Arab countries.
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On Friday, the outlawed political group held a news conference south of the Lebanese capital, which Bahrain decried.
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning Lebanon for hosting “hostile units classified as supporting and sponsoring terrorism, for the purpose of promoting abusive and malicious allegations against the Kingdom of Bahrain”.
Al-Wefaq was banned in Bahrain in 2016 when the Justice Ministry accused it of undermining the state, spreading sectarianism, and having connection to “terrorist activities”.
In 2017, the party’s secretary-general, Ali Salman, was charged with “colluding with Qatar to carry out ‘hostile acts’ in Bahrain and damage its prestige”.
Tensions with Gulf countries
Since October this year, Lebanon has been involved in a diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
Videos of an interview Lebanon’s Information Minister George Kordahi had given a month before his appointment began surfacing online, in which he said the Iran-aligned Houthis are “defending themselves … against an external aggression” in Yemen.
Kordahi also said the long-running conflict was “futile” and called for it to end.
Several Gulf countries reacted swiftly to Kordahi’s comments. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain recalled their envoys from Beirut, as did Yemen, and banished Lebanese ambassadors.
Bahrain and the UAE also called on their citizens to leave Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, banned all Lebanese imports into the kingdom, further escalating an indefinite ban on all Lebanese produce and agricultural products imposed in April after foiling an attempt to smuggle 5.3 million pills of the illegal amphetamine captagon that had been hidden in a shipment of pomegranates at Jeddah port.
Kordahi resigned earlier this month as a prerequisite for French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss restoring ties with Lebanon during his visit to Saudi Arabia.