Lebanon bans Bahrain opposition group's events in Beirut

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi says events would have undermined ties with Gulf states

Bassam Mawlawi, Lebanon's Interior Minister, gives a press conference in Beirut. AFP
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Lebanon on Thursday banned Bahraini opposition groups from holding two events in Beirut, citing the need to improve relations with Gulf Arab states.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said he was cancelling events organised by Bahraini opposition figures that were due to take place on Friday and Monday.

"If these two events were to take place, they would undermine official Bahraini authorities and Gulf Arab states, thus blocking efforts by Lebanon to boost ties with these countries," Mr Mawlawi said in a statement carried by Lebanon’s National News Agency.

He did not specify which groups had organised the events.

Mr Mawlawi said the events had been scheduled to take place at a hotel near Beirut Airport in the capital's southern suburbs – a stronghold of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group.

In December, Lebanon ordered one of the country's security agencies to deport non-Lebanese members of Bahrain's main opposition group, Al Wefaq.

The order came after Al Wefaq held a news conference in Beirut on December 11 to present a report on alleged human rights breaches in Bahrain.

Bahrain's judiciary dissolved Al Wefaq, which has close ties to Hezbollah, in July 2016 over allegations including "harbouring terrorism".

Relations between Lebanon and Gulf states are at their lowest point in decades, inflamed by comments from a Lebanese minister last year.

Then-information minister George Kordahi spoke critically of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition's support for the Yemeni government in the war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al Sabah, Kuwait's Foreign Minister, visited Beirut last month and presented a list of proposals aimed at healing the rift between Lebanon and several GCC countries.

The list included conditions such as halting drug smuggling from Lebanon, non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries, and curbing the involvement of Hezbollah in other Arab countries, particularly in Yemen.

GCC foreign ministers met in Kuwait last month to discuss Lebanon’s response.

Updated: February 11, 2022, 9:54 AM