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Monday, March 28, 2011     GET REAL

Gulf states weigh mass expulsion of Iran agents: 'We can't look the other way any more'

ABU DHABI — The Gulf Cooperation Council has been mulling a plan to deport thousands of suspected Iranian agents.


Arab diplomatic sources said the six GCC states were discussing a proposal to identify and track an estimated 20,000 Shi'ites linked to Iran. They said many of the agents have been activated in 2011 and represented a security threat to the GCC.

"For years, the GCC knew of these people, but looked the other way," a diplomat said. "We can't look the other way anymore."

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The Kuwaiti daily A-Siyassa reported that the GCC plan would deport thousands of Lebanese Shi'ites with links to Hizbullah and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Middle East Newsline reported. The newspaper, in a report on March 24, said the plan was drafted in wake of intelligence reports that Lebanese Shi'ites were recruited to demonstrate in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

"No Lebanese Shi'ite linked to or suspected of being associated with Hizbullah and IRGC will remain in the Gulf," a diplomatic source said.

The GCC was said to have received intelligence from Bahrain, France and the United States on the influx of Hizbullah and IRGC agents into Sunni Gulf states. A-Siyassa said the intelligence reports asserted that IRGC and Hizbullah agents were leading the anti-regime protests in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

On March 27, Qatar was reported to have captured two Iranian weapons boats near Bahrain. The Kuwaiti news portal Al Aan said the Iranian vessels were being held in Zubara in northeastern Qatar.

At the same time, Bahrain has been arresting suspected Hizbullah agents. The GCC kingdom has also blocked flights from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

"Hizbullah has provided training for their people," Bahraini Social Development Minister Fatima Al Balushi said.

In Kuwait, parliament has sought to study the Iranian presence in the GCC sheikdom. Kuwaiti parliamentarian Mubarak Al Waalan has demanded that the government provide information on the staff of the Iranian embassy as well as how many Iranians live and work in Kuwait. The Iranian community was said to have increased significantly since 2003.

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