Kuwait announced Monday that it would be annulling the residency visas of more than 60 Lebanese individuals who were accused of having ties to the terrorist organization Hezbollah, in the latest move by Gulf Arab States targeting the group. The residency visas were in most instances converted into temporary visas of two months' duration, per a Kuwaiti security official, although in more drastic cases, individuals were issued 48-hour visas. When these visas expire, they will be expelled from the country. Last week, 11 Lebanese and three Iraqis were deported from Kuwait for alleged ties to Hezbollah.
Earlier this month, Bahrain deported several Lebanese residents due to their Hezbollah membership. Saudi Arabia, which is leading the anti-Hezbollah drive among the Gulf states, announced in February that it was cutting off $4 billion in military and security aid to Lebanon over what the Kingdom called “the seize” by Hezbollah of the “state administration.” The Gulf Cooperation Council as well as the Arab League both recently designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Hezbollah, alongside its patron Iran, has supported Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war and has fought alongside the Houthi rebels, who overthrew the internationally-recognized government of Yemen in February 2015. Hezbollah has been complicit in the systematic starvation of Syrian civilians. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a resolution accusing Bashar al-Assad of war crimes and urged President Obama to direct the U.S. mission at the UN to promote the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to prosecute the Assad regime along with its allies, Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia.
This comes at a time when Hezbollah is busy building its terrorist infrastructure in southern Lebanon, mostly within civilian areas. At a House hearing last week, Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that in building this infrastructure, “Hezbollah has essentially painted a big target on the back of all of Lebanon.” Badran continued that the placement of more missiles in southern Lebanon “as well as Hezbollah’s entrenchment in Syria and its expansion into the Golan along with the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps], creates a situation for Israel that will…accelerate upcoming future conflict which…is going to be far bloodier than we’ve ever seen on both sides.” Israeli officials have warned that by moving most of its military infrastructure into Shiite villages in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah is placing Lebanese civilians at risk and using them as human shields. Yaakov Amidror, former Israeli National Security Advisor, has stated, “At the end of the day, it means that many, many Lebanese will be killed.”
The Iranian Supreme Court sentenced a man to have his eye gouged out in accordance with the country’s strict retribution laws, The Independent reported on Tuesday.
The convict, identified only as 28-year-old Saman, brawled with his then-25-year-old victim Jalal in 2011. Saman said that he unintentionally blinded Jalal during the altercation with a metal rod, according to the Norway-based organization Iran Human Rights.
Victims may inflict the same injuries they suffered on their attackers under Iran’s penal code, which includes a literal interpretation of the Sharia principle of an “eye for an eye.” A man who attacked another with acid in the city of Qoms had his left eye forcibly removed last year. The victim, who has the authority to determine whether the blinding will be carried out, decided to suspend the removal of the right eye until a later date.
The Iranian penal code also mandates harsh penalties for capital offenses including adultery, sodomy, fraud, possessing or trafficking drugs, insulting religious prophets, “waging war against God,” and “corruption on earth.”
According to United Nations rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed, there were at least 966 executions in Iran last year, the highest total in ten years. The number of executions in Iran has climbed over the past decade, and reached record yearly highs in each of the three years of President Hassan Rouhani’s tenure.
Shaheed said in October that the high rate of executions under Rouhani is an “unprecedented assault on the right to life in Iran.” At least 73 juveniles were executed by Iran between 2005 and 2015, while 160 remained on death row as of January, according to Amnesty International.
While Rouhani has often been characterized as a moderate, human rights advocates say his term in office has been marked by a steady increase in repression, including the suppression of free speech, oppression of women and gays, government-sanctioned discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, and the imprisonment and torture of dissidents. Shortly after his election in 2013, Rouhani appointed Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, known as the “Minister of Murder” for his role in thousands of summary executions in the 1980’s, to the post of justice minister.
Former Italian foreign minister Giulio Maria Terzi wrote in Politico in January that the nuclear deal Iran signed last year would not lead the country to moderate its behavior. “European governments are willing to talk with Rouhani about oil deals and trade partnerships even if it means actively ignoring Iran’s worsening human rights situation, its sponsorship of terror, and its destabilizing activities in the Middle East,” he wrote. (via TheTower.org)