Mikati thanks bahraini PM for halting deportation of Lebanese

Lebanon’s Prime minister-designate Najib Mikati called his Bahraini counterpart Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa thanking him for his efforts in halting deportation of Lebanese expatriates residing in the Gulf state and thanked Bahraini King Hamad for his cooperation with Lebanon’s request that its expatriates not be blindly expelled .

This comes after Bahrain on Tuesday returned confiscated passports to Lebanese citizens and allowed them to remain in Manama, days after expelling more than a dozen mainly Shiite Lebanese over “security concerns.”

“Bahraini authorities have returned the passports of a number of Lebanese citizens living there after having confiscated them in preparation for their expulsion,” a foreign ministry source in Beirut told AFP on Tuesday.

“The authorities have allowed them to remain in the country and continue to work there,” the source added.

Earlier this month, Bahrain deported 16 Lebanese, 14 of them Shia, over “security concerns” amid persistent unrest in the tiny Gulf state.

Addressing the relations between Lebanon and Bahrain , Caretaker PM Saad Hariri said early April

“We’re working together with our brothers in the Gulf, especially with our Bahraini brothers, to end the repercussions of the irresponsible and unjustified political alignment which has nothing to do with Lebanese patriotism or Arab nationalism. It’s rather part of the Iranian plot which I have described as an attempt to dominate Lebanon and the Arab region.”

He was reportedly referring to the travel ban imposed by Bahrain against travel to Lebanon when Hezbollah openly sided with the protesters against the government . Bahrain branded Hezbollah a “terrorist organization”.

Bahrain interior minister Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah al-Khalifa linked Hezbollah to the protests during his address to the parliament on March 29

He accused the predominantly Shiite protesters of being linked to” the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, “as proven by the demonstrators’ methods as well as statements of support from the Lebanese Shiite group and Tehran.”

“All this reveals a link and the training style of Hezbollah,” the interior minister said.

Kuwaiti newspaper As-Seyyasah reported last month that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are heading toward “making a collective decision to expel all Lebanese Shiites who are connected to Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”

“ These states received proven reports from Bahraini, French, and US intelligence that Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard members are, along with local religious figures, leading the protests in Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia,” the daily quoted an anonymous Arab diplomat as saying.