Saudi Arabia and Bahrain ready to expel Hezbollah activists and sympathizers

Riyadh against Saudis who "support" the Lebanese Shiite movement. They will be tried under anti-terrorism laws. Bahrain adopts expulsion policy, 10 families already deported. Arab countries continue the encirclement against Hezbollah. Nasrallah: "Saudis paying price for failed bets in Syria and Yemen".


Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudi Arabia has announced the expulsion of all its citizens who "show support" for the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, or who collaborate "in any capacity" with the group. The government in Riyadh has also added that anyone caught involved in similar activities will be tried under anti-terrorism laws in force in the Kingdom, which also provide for the death penalty.

The Saudi government announcement has further inflamed - if possible - the political climate in Lebanon, where the clash taking place between the various factions (pro-Iranian Shiites, as opposed to its neighbor Saudi Arabia).  This internal conflict has blocked the election of the President of the Republic for over 20 months. On 19 February, Riyadh issued a series of measures against Lebanon and Hezbollah, cutting $ 54 billion in military aid promised to the army and security forces in Beirut.

For the Saudis, Lebanon he has taken "hostile positions" and is covering the Shiite movement’s "terrorist acts" against "Arab and Muslim nations”. Moreover since the attack on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, in response to the execution of the Shiite dignitary Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates have called on their fellow citizens not to travel to Lebanon.

In a statement released yesterday the Saudi Ministry of Interior said that "any citizen or resident [in Saudi Arabia] that shows affiliation or support for the so-called group Hezbollah ... will suffer harsh punishment, according to the Anti- terrorism laws and regulations ".

The same rules will be applied against those who "promote" the Hezbollah ideology, those who financially support the movement or who have contact with its members. The ministerial statement adds that harsh punishment will be reserved for those who offer hospitality to "members" of Hezbollah. "Any resident caught in this type of activity - the statement concludes - will be deported".

Hezbollah is a Shiite militant armed group, whose influence in Lebanese politics has grown more in recent decades. Allies and supported by Iran, they have put their military force at Assad’s service in fighting fundamentalist militia of al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda) and the Islamic State (IS), inflicting heavy defeats.

The Saudi government ‘s frontal attack comes just hours after leaders of the Islamic State (IS) accused Hezbollah of being "the source of crime and oppression of the nation". Earlier the Arab League, gathered in Cairo, also condemned Hezbollah as a "terrorist" group, following the same position pronounced by Saudi Arabia and the Council of the Gulf countries.

In the face of these repeated acts of hostility from governments, organizations and terrorist groups, the leaders of the Lebanese Shiite movement have responded with calm. In recent days, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made an official statement, in which he states that "Saudi Arabia is furious because his of its failed bets in  Yemen and Syria".

Meanwhile, Bahrain has acceded to the expulsions policy against Lebanese citizens who sympathize or have  links with the Hezbollah movement. This is confirmed by Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior, who announced - without specifying the number - the "deportation" of a group of Lebanese. In recent days, the media in Beirut spoke of at least 10 families which have been notified of their impending expulsion.

Previously, the leaders (Sunnis) of the country had accused Hezbollah and Iran of supporting the activities of Shiite militias in the country. Accusations rejected by the Lebanese movement and  the Tehran government.

Bahrain is a Gulf monarchy ruled by a Sunni dynasty in a country where the majority of the population (at least 60-70%) is Shiite and  has for some time been calling for constitutional changes and more social and economic rights. In 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring, there were riots that the King of Bahrain – an ally of Washington and supported by Riyadh - defeated with armed troops sent by Saudi Arabia.