UAE not targeting Lebanese citizens: PM
The Daily Star/Mar. 14, 2015
BEIRUT: UAE’s prime minister assured his Lebanese counterpart Saturday that his country has no official policy of targeting Lebanese citizens, one day after the Gulf government decided to deport 70 families. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam raised the matter with his Emirati counterpart, Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, on the sidelines of an economic conference in Egypt. According to a statement released by Salam’s office, Maktoum stressed that the “UAE has neither a policy nor an intention to target Lebanese residents.”Maktoum highlighted the high numbers of Lebanese living in the UAE and their professional successes, the statement said. “Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid clarified that if measures were taken against some Lebanese, they were certainly based on particular security concerns and do not exceed this limit,” it added. Around 70 Lebanese citizens were notified by the Lebanese embassies in UAE of the decision to deport them with their families Thursday. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Friday confirmed reports that the UAE had decided to deport the Lebanese individuals, adding that he had contacted his Emirati counterpart in a bid to resolve the matter. Most of the Lebanese facing deportation are Shiites. This was the third move of this kind by a Gulf nation in the past six years. In 2009, dozens of Lebanese Shiites who had lived in the UAE for years were expelled on suspicion of links with Hezbollah. In 2013, Qatar also expelled 18 Lebanese citizens, after the Gulf Cooperation Council imposed sanctions against Hezbollah for its military intervention in the Syrian war. Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Bassil had contacted the UAE’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and other relevant parties in an attempt to resolve the issue, and had briefed Salam on the discussions. The ministry said Bassil spoke about the issue during Thursday’s Cabinet session, sharing information he had received on the matter. The statement also said that the Foreign Ministry had tried to improve ties between Lebanon and the UAE, as evidenced by the recent reappointment of a Lebanese ambassador to the nation and bilateral discussions on consular, diplomatic and political problems. Hasan Alayan, the head of a committee representing Lebanese nationals who have been expelled from the UAE in recent years, told The Daily Star Friday that the Lebanese were given 24 to 48 hours to leave the country. Salam is heading a high-ranking Lebanese business delegation to Egypt.
Ruler of Dubai Meets Salam, Says UAE Not Targeting Lebanese
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam met with prominent state leaders on Saturday during his second-day visit to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Salam held talks with the vice president of the United Arab Emirates and Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktoum. The PM reportedly discussed with Sheikh Mohammed the UAE decision to deport around 90 Lebanese from the country. The Gulf state recently gave a 24-hour notice to some Lebanese to leave in the latest wave of deportations from the state. Sheikh Mohammed vowed to follow up the matter with his country’s authorities, stressing that there is no official decision to target the Lebanese living in the UAE. He pointed out that all measures taken against some Lebanese expats are merely linked to security concerns and don’t exceed this limit. The PM later held a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz. Salam lauded during his talks with the Saudi official Riyadh’s support to Lebanon, praising its continuous aid to the army. For his part, prince Muqrin stressed his country’s keenness to preserve unity in Lebanon, calling on them to overcome their political differences. The premier also held a meeting with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Friday evening. On Friday, Salam announced in a speech at the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh his confidence in Egypt’s ability to “overcome the tough phase,” as he reminded that Lebanon is also facing a “fierce terrorist onslaught.”He said that Lebanon wants to see Egypt “safe, strong and prosperous” with “an active role” in the Arab world. “We have succeeded in confronting this fierce onslaught and to achieve a high level of security immunity in the country through our army and security forces and the help of our brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries,” the premier added.
Since last year, the Lebanese army has been confronting jihadist groups entrenched on the country’s porous eastern border with Syria. It fought bloody clashes with the militants after they overran the border town of Arsal on August 2.
“Together with Egypt we are capable to foil strife, defeat darkness and emerge victorious in the struggle of wills. We can pave the way for our people towards a bright and promising future,” Salam added. The premier held talks on Friday with Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah at his place of residence in Sharm el-Sheikh and with Jordanian King Abdullah II, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini.