Gulf countries discuss sanctions to clip Hezbollah wings
RIYADH - Senior Gulf Cooperation Council officials met in Riyadh on Thursday to coordinate sanctions in the six member states against Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement over its support for the Syria regime.
The meeting was "to develop mechanisms to monitor movements, financial transactions and business operations of Hezbollah," said Bahraini deputy interior minister Khaled al-Absi.
The GCC monarchies decided on June 10 to impose sanctions on Hezbollah, targeting residency permits and its financial and business activities in reprisal for the group's armed intervention in Syria.
Absi told reporters two expert teams will be formed: one to "coordinate with central banks" and the second to review "legal, administrative and financial matters" linked to the sanctions.
Last month's measure was taken "after the discovery in GCC states of several terrorist cells linked to the group," said Absi.
However, he did not say how many Hezbollah suspects would be affected by the sanctions or their estimated assets and financial and commercial operations in the region.
The sanctions would be implemented "in coordination... with ministers of commerce and the central banks of the GCC," the council's Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani has said.
The GCC comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Qatar expelled 18 Lebanese citizens from the gas-rich Gulf state on June 20, a government source in Beirut said.
An estimated 360,000 Lebanese work in the Gulf, according to Lebanese daily An-Nahar, remitting some $4 billion (three billion euros) annually.
Lebanon has a population of just 4.1 million.
A staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, of the Alawite sect of Shiite Islam, Hezbollah has backed him since protests erupted in March 2011, openly declaring its military involvement last month.
The Sunni monarchies of the Gulf back the mostly Sunni rebels, and the GCC has warned that it might add Hezbollah to its list of terrorist groups.