Gulf states warn its citizens in Lebanon, express solidarity with Saudi Arabia

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Assiri, center, poses for a photograph with Lebanese politicians during their visit to express their solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at the Saudi Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Assiri, center, poses for a photograph with Lebanese politicians during their visit to express their solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at the Saudi Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Qatar became the latest Gulf state to follow the example of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in urging their citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon for safety reasons, their state news agencies reported.

Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama issued statements on Tuesday 23rd February calling on their citizens not to travel to Lebanon, following tensions over the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah which is fighting to support Syria’s regime. As Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Gulf Arab states are opposed to Assad.

The moves by the Gulf Arab allies came after Saudi Arabia last week suspended aid worth $3 billion to the Lebanese army over the Beirut government’s failure to sign up to statements condemning attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.

In a statement cited by the official KUNA news agency, the Kuwaiti embassy in Beirut also asked Kuwaitis to postpone any planned travel to Lebanon on Wednesday 24th February. The mission said all citizens should leave “except in extreme circumstances,” and advised those who stay to exercise caution and avoid unspecified places which are not safe. On 25th February, the national state news of Qatar announced their decision to join with the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

On the other hand, a number of politicians and ministers kept arriving at the Saudi embassy in Lebanon, to meet the ambassador Ali Awad Assiri and express their solidarity. Lebanese minister of health Wael Abu Faour said that Lebanon is an Arab country and any issue that concerns Arabs concerns them as well. He also added that any external interference, especially by Iran, isn’t accepted. He finally adds that these examples of “Lebanese ingratitude” doesn’t represent all Lebanese, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Lebanese MP members Antoin Zahra and Ahmed Fatfat, blamed Hezbollah for the crisis Lebanon is facing, emphasizing on the importance of Lebanese-Saudi relations, and its normalcy with the Gulf states, which is currently threatened by Hezbollah. Former prime minister Naguib Mecaty also visited the embassy and emphasized on the importance of siding with Saudi Arabia, as he believes that Lebanon’s normalized relations with the GCC countries are neither an option or luxury.

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