At Least 18 Lebanese Expelled from Qatar as Report Says Move Not Political

At least 18 Lebanese citizens have been expelled from Qatar, a government source in Beirut told Agence France Presse Thursday, after the Gulf Cooperation Council pledged to act against members of Hizbullah.

"Eighteen Lebanese have been expelled from Qatar, in the wake of the GCC decision," the source said on condition of anonymity, saying it was not clear if they were Hizbullah members.

Earlier on Thursday, informed sources told Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5): “Those who were deported from Qatar belong to one team that was in charge of overseeing an engineering project for the interior ministry and the expulsion is linked to mistakes whose price was paid by the Lebanese team.”

“The expulsion is not linked to the latest reports of a policy of deporting the Lebanese there,” the sources added.

Later on Thursday, caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour announced that “after making the necessary contacts with Lebanon's embassy in Qatar, we were told that no Lebanese employees were fired or expelled from Qatar.”

“The issue is that a number of employees at the Saudi Binladin Group, which is executing a project for the Qatari interior ministry, were summoned by the public relations and administrative director of the company, who is also Lebanese, with the aim of evaluating their performance,” Mansour explained.

“They had employment contracts ranging between one year and two years and as a result of the evaluation, 21 employees were sacked – 15 Lebanese, one Pakistani, one Indian, one Bahraini, one Canadian and two Egyptians – and the company told them that it is willing to grant them the permission to stay in Qatar should they find another sponsor or to leave Qatar and return after finding a new sponsor,” Mansour added.

He stressed that “there is no decision to deport any employee of the company and therefore any Lebanese expat,” adding that “there is a large number of Lebanese citizens who work in Qatar and the Gulf countries and they are receiving care and appreciation from the brothers in the Gulf, and we should not always attribute the departure of any person to political or sectarian reasons.”

On June 10, the GCC, to which Qatar belongs, said it would implement measures affecting the "residency permits and financial and commercial transactions of Hizbullah" in response to the group's involvement in the conflict in Syria.

The GCC statement urged the Lebanese government to "assume its responsibilities towards the behavior of Hizbullah and its illegal and inhumane practices in Syria and the region."

The bloc, which backs the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad, includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The decision stirred fears among the many Shiite Lebanese who work in the Gulf of being associated with the armed group.

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri was asked on Thursday if his country would move to expel Lebanese citizens, but said only that the GCC decision "affects those who support Hizbullah."

"Hizbullah has erred against itself, its sect and its country. This decision affects those who have been deceived (by Hizbullah)," he told Future TV.

On June 11, LBCI television reported that “the foreign ministry received a list containing the names of nine Lebanese who work in Gulf countries and whose residency permits will not be renewed due to their political affiliations.”

Source: Agence France Presse, Naharnet

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