Saudi Arabia, Riyadh: On Tuesday, a statement issued by Saudi foreign ministry calling on all citizens not to travel to the Lebanon, for their safety, and asking citizens residing in Lebanon or visiting not to stay unless extremely necessary. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon or avoid travelling there after Riyadh halted $4bn in aid to Lebanese security forces in response to “hostile” positions linked to Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.
The statement, run by the official SPA news agency, urged citizens to contact the Saudi Embassy in Beirut. Announcing the aid halt on Friday, an official said the kingdom had noticed “hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state.” The UAE also banned its citizens from travelling to Lebanon and reduced its diplomatic presence in Beirut.
On Friday, the UAE announced full support of Saudi’s review of its relations with Lebanon, blaming the country’s “failure to condemn Iran’s aggression” in the embassy incident. The UAE’s foreign ministry said, “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”. 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.