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Bahrain airlines resume flights to Lebanon

Bahrain Air and Gulf Air to resume flights to Lebanon

Reuters , Friday 10 Jun 2011
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Bahrain has resumed flights to Lebanon which it suspended for over two months after the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah backed anti-government protests led mostly by the Gulf kingdom's majority Shi'ites.

The head of budget airline Bahrain Air's Lebanon office said on Thursday it would resume flights to Beirut from June 22, with five flights a week. State-run Gulf Air also announced a resumption of flights to Lebanon, an airport source said.
Gulf Air's flights to Iran and Iraq, which were suspended in late March, have not been resumed.

The suspensions highlighted growing tensions in the world's largest oil-exporting region between Sunni-ruled Arab countries and non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran, just across Gulf waters.

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had criticised Arab states for backing Bahrain's Sunni rulers, who called in troops from Sunni-led Gulf neighbours to help them quell protests by mainly Shi'ite protesters.

Bahrain's crackdown, which saw it ban protests and impose martial law, has stunned majority Shi'ites and angered Iran, which supports Sh'ite groups in Lebanon and Iraq. Bahrain withdrew its top diplomats from Iran in protest at the Islamic Republic's criticism of its actions.

Shi'ite clerics and political leaders in Iraq have denounced the deployment of troops from Sunni-led Gulf states in Bahrain.

More than 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shi'ites and most are campaigning for a constitutional monarchy. But calls by hardliners for the overthrow of the monarchy have alarmed Sunnis, who say the unrest serves Iran.

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