Qatar, Kuwait urge citizens to leave Lebanon

Doha, Feb 24: Qatar and Kuwait today became the latest Gulf states to urge their citizens to leave Lebanon due to tensions over the pro-Iranian Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah which backs the Damascus regime.

Doha's foreign ministry, in a statement on the official Qatar News Agency (QNA), called on citizens in Lebanon to "leave for their own safety" and said no Qatari nationals should travel there.


Earlier today, in a statement cited by the official KUNA news agency, the Kuwaiti embassy in Beirut also advised Kuwaitis to postpone any planned travel to Lebanon.

The mission said all citizens should leave "except in extreme circumstances," and advised those who stay to exercise caution and avoid unspecified, unsafe areas.

Qatar and Kuwait join Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in issuing travel warnings for Lebanon. Riyadh, which supports the Syrian opposition, has also halted a USD 4-billion military and police funding programme for Beirut in response to what it said were "hostile" positions linked to Hezbollah.

Riyadh's ambassador in Lebanon, Ali Awad Assiri, said today that Lebanon must apologise for failing to join other Arab nations in condemning attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran last month. "This has upset the kingdom and (Lebanon) has to repair the error with wisdom and courage," Assiri told AFP.

The attacks on Saudi missions in Iran, which followed the kingdom's execution of influential Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, prompted Riyadh to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran.

Syria's war has exacerbated political rivalries within Lebanon, which has been without a president for almost two years because of fierce disagreements between Hezbollah and its rivals, some of whom are supported by Riyadh.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of Yemen's internationally-recognised government accused Hezbollah of training Shiite Huthi rebels and orchestrating attacks on Saudi Arabia from Yemen.

The government has evidence of "Hezbollah's involvement in the Huthi war on the Yemeni people," Rajih Badi said in a statement to the official agency.

Hezbollah militants are present in "the battlefields along the border with Saudi Arabia," said Badi, urging "international legal measures" against the movement. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition battling the Iran-backed rebels in support of the Yemeni government. 


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