Kuwait increases pressure on Lebanon over Iran-proxy Hezbollah

KUWAIT – Days after Kuwaiti authorities arrested four individuals for financing Iran’s Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, investigations have led to the arrest of a dozen more, bringing the total number of accused to 16. Authorities in Kuwait further increased pressure on Lebanon with restrictions on the issuing of visas to Lebanese nationals wishing to visit Kuwaiti territory. 

According to the Kuwaiti newspaper Alqabas, a judicial team is investigating the accused, together with another team from the State Security Bureau that follows the investigation intensively. The Kuwaiti newspaper added that conversations found on the phones of the first four defendants, found inside a building belonging to a charity, led to the arrest of the twelve new defendants. The judicial team together with the State Security is continuing efforts to identify sources of funds that have been transferred in relation to the case, to determine whether support to and from Hezbollah was deliberate.

The diplomatic row between Lebanon and several Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain, was sparked after footage circulated online from an interview held in August. In the video, the Lebanese Information Minister George Qardahi referring to the Saudi-led coalition’s war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen as “absurd” and ”futile”. In response, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain had their diplomats in Beirut recalled and expelled the Lebanese ambassadors.

In addition to the diplomatic rift between Lebanon and the Arab Gulf States, Kuwaiti media reported that the Kuwaiti State had suspended the issuance of all types of visas to Lebanese. However, a Kuwaiti security source explained that the government had merely tightened the granting of tourist and commercial visas to Lebanese, but not completely ceased issuing them.