Kuwait, Qatar urge citizens to avoid Lebanon

AP News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2016 12:29 PM
Kuwait, Qatar urge citizens to avoid Lebanon

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait and Qatar on Wednesday became the latest Arab countries to follow in Saudi Arabia's footsteps by urging their citizens already in Lebanon to leave and issuing a travel warning for nationals planning to visit there.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — all member-states of the tight-knit Gulf Cooperation Council — have called for their citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon.

The Kuwait News Agency, which carried the travel advisory by Kuwait's Embassy in Lebanon, gave no details on the nature of the security threat. Qatar's Foreign Ministry issued a similar advisory later Wednesday, published on state-run news agency.

The move comes days after Saudi Arabia cut $4 billion in aid to Lebanese security forces in retaliation for Lebanon siding with Iran in the Sunni kingdom's proxy wars with the Shiite power. Lebanon is home to the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group.

The Saudi decision came after the Lebanese foreign minister, Gibran Bassil, an ally of Hezbollah, declined to support Saudi resolutions against Iran during two meetings of Arab and Muslim foreign ministers.

The spat is inflaming tensions in Lebanon between the pro-Saudi and pro-Hezbollah camp in Lebanon.

On Wednesday, pro-Saudi politicians and other well-wishers flocked to the Saudi Embassy in Beirut to express solidarity with Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Awad Asiri, said "mistakes were committed against the kingdom and what is required is to rectify them."

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said "the problem is that there are groups in Lebanon, whether Hezbollah or its allies, who think that they are bigger than the state."

"Hezbollah should understand that it is not alone in the country and that there are Lebanese interests all over the world, and they are exposing Lebanon and all the Lebanese to dangers in the Arab world in general and the Arab Gulf in particular as well," he added.