Saudi Arabia and UAE has announced upgrading of the travel warning to Lebanon to a complete ban, with effect from Tuesday, just days after Riyadh cut $4 billion in aid to Lebanese security forces. It did not elaborate or offer a reason for the decision.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ announcement, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, included decision to reduce the number of its diplomatic mission in Beirut to its minimum for immediate implementation.
Bahrain also urged citizens against travelling to Lebanon, and called on Bahrainis there already to leave quickly, according to a statement posted to state news.
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Yesterday the Saudi Foreign Ministry warned its own citizens not to travel there, and urged citizens already there to depart or to be in contact with the Saudi Embassy in Beirut. It gave no reason for the warning other than unspecified safety concerns.
On Friday, the United Arab Emirates announced “full support” of Saudi’s review of its relations with Lebanon, blaming the country’s “failure to condemn Iran’s aggression” after Saudi Arabia’s embassy was attacked in Tehran in January.
The embassy attack followed the execution of a renowned Shia leader in Saudi Arabia over “terrorism” charges.
“The UAE fully supports the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s decision to halt its aid to the Lebanese army and security forces, ” said the UAE’s foreign ministry statement, posted on state media on Tuesday.
“At the same time [the UAE] calls upon Lebanon and its people to restore Lebanon to the Arab Nation where it belongs, away from the Iranian influences adopted by the so-called Hezbollah, ” the UAE statement added.
On Monday, Lebanon tried to repair relations and vowed to support Arab countries and maintain its Arab identity.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam said that Lebanon should maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia and that Arab countries must garner a unified response to all obstacles that they face.
“Lebanon will not forget Saudi Arabia’s role … in helping it rebuild the country after the [1975-1990] civil war, ” Salam said after a cabinet session.
Former prime minister Saad Hariri also expressed loyalty to the kingdom.
Lebanon’s main political divide pits a Sunni-led coalition against another led by the Iran-backed Shia Hezbollah movement.
Lebanon has seen a series of armed attacks in recent years linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
JBN and Media sources