Last updated: 5 June, 2013

Bahrain to probe Hezbollah economic activities

The interior minister on Wednesday ordered a probe into any economic activity in Bahrain by the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, which the kingdom has branded a “terrorist organisation”.

Sheikh Rashid Al-Khalifa has “directed security bodies to probe possible Hezbollah activity in the Kingdom of Bahrain,” the official BNA news agency reported.

Bahrain will investigate “financial investments, commercial and economic activity, operations that masquerade as charities, bank accounts, money transfers and individual members of the organisation to take the required legal procedures”.

The strategic Sunni-ruled Gulf nation, which has been rocked by a Shiite-led uprising since 2011, last month banned opposition groups from having contacts with Hezbollah.

The move was aimed at limiting the movement’s suspected influence on the kingdom’s restive Shiite majority.

The interior minister’s announcement comes three days after the Gulf Cooperation Council — of which Bahrain is a member — warned its six nations could take measures against Hezbollah.

During the 2011 protests in Bahrain, Hezbollah repeatedly slammed the Sunni dynasty for cracking down on Shiite demonstrators, drawing angry rebuttals from Manama which accused the Lebanese group of meddling in its internal affairs.

Hezbollah forces fought alongside Syrian government troops in a fierce battle to retake the Syrian town of Qusayr from mostly Sunni rebels.

The rebels were ousted from the town on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa has called Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah — a popular figure among the Shiites of Bahrain — a “terrorist”.

Bahrain’s Shiites continue to demonstrate in their villages, frequently clashing with police.

A total of 80 people have been killed since the protests erupted, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.