Saudi Arabia Urges Citizens to Flee Lebanon
Riyadh has urged Saudi Arabian citizens to flee Lebanon in light of Tuesday morning's bombing on the Iranian embassy, according to statements released Thursday.
“Given the danger of the situation in Lebanon, the Saudi Embassy has urged its citizens to leave the country for their own safety,” Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Awad Asiri stated, to the Lebanese National News Agency. Tuesday's attack, launched by an Iranian-founded branch of al-Qaeda, left 23 dead and 146 wounded.
The Daily Star reports that this is the second Saudi travel advisory for Saudis in Lebanon in two months. In September, the Saudi Foreign Affairs Ministry warned its nationals against travel to Lebanon when the U.S. was preparing for a strike against Syria.
The embassy sent text messages to its nationals in the country, asking them to depart or remain cautious in case they decided to stay. "Amid the current situation and the tensions, the Saudi Embassy advises its citizens to return home or remain cautious," the text message read.
The warning will likely send alarm bells ringing in Lebanon. It comes amid fierce fighting in Syria's strategically-important Qalamoun region between regime forces - backed by Shia Hezbollah - and Sunni rebels. Saudi officials have repeatedly warned Hezbollah that its continued involvement in the fight against the Syrian rebels - many of whom are Saudi-backed - could trigger reprisal attacks against the Iranian-backed group's Lebanese heartland.
Coupled with Tuesday's unprecedented attack against an Iranian target, this recent travel warning will be seen as a further warning of things to come.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced that it will deport Lebanese citizens who are known supporters of Hezbollah in protest of the Shi'ite terror group's military support of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Rumors continue to swirl that Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf States are preparing an elaborate military plan in the events that diplomatic talks with Iran fails, in order to prevent the region from becoming a nuclear hotbed.
While Saudi Arabia has officially denied these claims, Western media continues to insist that talks between Jerusalem and Riyadh - who officially do not have any diplomatic contact whatsoever - are currently underway.
Meanwhile, Iranian-Saudi relations may be under increased strain, following Thursday's mortar bombing in the Gulf State by an Iran-linked terror group.