Qatar visa waiver for Lebanese prompts concerns over Hezbollah infiltration into GCC

Lebanese nationals have been added to the list of nationalities who earn an “instant access tourist permit” into Qatar upon arrival at the airport, announced Qatar’s airport immigration office on Wednesday.

Media outlets revealed that the airport immigration office’s Director Mohammed Rashid Al Mazrouei, signed the memorandum incorporating the decision. He also submitted a copy to the General Authority of Civil Aviation and the Department of Consular Affairs.

The decision to exempt Lebanese from an entry visa raised concerns among political and media circles who fear that this would lead to the infiltration of Hezbollah elements into the region through Qatar, causing instability.

On Wednesday, Qatar has altogether exempted 80 nationals from the need for an entry visa, but what is worth noting is the fact that only one Arab country was among the list, which is Lebanon.

Hezbollah is known to adopt an Iranian agenda and comments linger in the air claiming that Doha’s decision cloaks negative intentions, one of which includes giving access to a large number of Hezbollah militias and their allies to Qatari organizations andeven having them enrol under their army.

The decision also correlates with statements attributed to the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, which Doha claimed to be fabricated, one where he confirms that the party classified as a terrorist organization in the GCC is a “resistance movement.”

Decision will destabilize region

The Secretary-General of the Arab Islamic Council, Muhammad Ali al-Husseini, said that Qatar’s decision to exempt Lebanese from an entry visa was a security threat to the region.

Speaking to Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh, Husseini said: “The state in Lebanon does not have power and influence over all its citizens, and Hezbollah is more powerful than it across all levels.”

“The most prominent example of this is the party’s influence at Beirut International Airport. Therefore, Qatar’s plan to cancel the entry visa for Lebanese nationals is an unaccountable risk.”

This is “particularly in the presence of large Lebanese groups hostile to Qatar, especially among members of Hezbollah, who is considered to be at war against the state, under the pretext that it supports and funds its enemy in Syria, the armed opposition,” added Husseini.

At the other end of the spectrum, speaking to Saudi Al Watan newspaper, Adel al-Makenzi, Professor of Political Science at King Saud University, said that for Qatar to have its doors wide open, provides an opportunity for malicious forces with a set agenda and presence in areas of conflict, to penetrate the region and to hurt Qatar itself.

This is considering that Hezbollah has a specific agenda and has proved that it is exploiting all opportunities to destabilize the region and the Gulf in general. It has been proven that Hezbollah is merely a soldier of the Wali al-Faqih, he added.