Lebanon orders deportation of non-Lebanese members of Bahraini opposition party

Interior minister’s decision comes after press conference that angered Bahrain

Members of Wefaq carry placards bearing the portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement, during a protest against his arrest on May 29, 2016. A Bahraini court on July 17, 2016, ordered the party to be dissolved. AFP

Lebanon on Wednesday ordered one of the country's security agencies to deport non-Lebanese members of Bahrain's opposition party, Al Wefaq.

The order came after a news conference held in Beirut on December 11 caused outrage when the party, which was dissolved in Bahrain in 2016 and has close ties to Lebanon's Iran-backed militia group Hezbollah, presented a report on human rights breaches in the kingdom.

The Interior Ministry wrote in a statement that Al Wefaq had harmed relationships with Bahrain as well as Lebanese interests by holding the press conference.

The ministry did not respond to requests for further clarification regarding Al Wefaq's activities in Lebanon.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi's decision comes weeks after a diplomatic rift developed between the Gulf and Lebanon due to comments made in a televised interview with Lebanon's information minister at the time, George Kordahi, in which he expressed support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Mr Kordahi resigned about a month after his interview aired.

“This seems to be happening following recent pressure from Gulf countries on Lebanon,” Karim Bitar, a professor at Saint Joseph University in Beirut, told The National.

“The increasing restrictions imposed on political and civil freedoms in Lebanon are worrying.”

Media reports claim Bahrain wrote a letter of complaint to the Lebanese government accusing Al Wefaq of “promoting abusive and malicious allegations against the Kingdom of Bahrain".

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned on December 12 “aggressions against Bahrain and its people” and “rejected using Lebanon as a platform to insult the Kingdom of Bahrain, just like he refuses insults against other Arab countries".

Saudi newspaper Okaz accused Hezbollah of enabling Al Wefaq's press conference and “attempting to implement its agendas and fallacies against Gulf and Arab countries".

Updated: December 16th 2021, 4:49 AM