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Saudi King Salman (L) and Hezbollah head Nasrallah
Photos: MCT, EPA
Saudi Arabia orders its citizens to leave Lebanon
Saudi Press Agency calls on all Saudis living in or visiting Lebanon to depart, and warns against travel to the country; statement comes on heels of Lebanon PM's shock resignation and following disappearance, with Lebanese officials convinced that Saudi Arabia is behind both; Kuwait follows suit and calls on its citizens to leave Lebanon shortly after Saudi statement.

Saudi Arabia has ordered its citizens out of Lebanon amid skyrocketing tensions between their two governments. Several hours later, Kuwait followed suit and called on its citizens to leave Lebanon.

 

 

A brief statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency called on all Saudis living in or visiting Lebanon to depart, and warned against travel to the country.

 

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri shocked his country Saturday when he announced in a televised statement out of Saudi Arabia that he was resigning. He has not been seen in Lebanon since.

 

The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, where al-Hariri is supposedly being held

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In his statement, al-Haririr said his country had been taken hostage by the militant group Hezbollah, a partner in his coalition government and a major foe of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia says it considers Hezbollah's participation in the Lebanese government an "act of war" against the kingdom.

  

Resigned Lebanon PM al-Hariri (L) with Saudi King Salman (Photo: AFP)
Resigned Lebanon PM al-Hariri (L) with Saudi King Salman (Photo: AFP)

 

Prior to Saudi Arabia's announcement to its citizens on Thursday, a top Lebanese government official stated that Lebanon believes al-Hariri is being held by Riyadh, and that Beirut plans to work with foreign states to secure his return.

 

A sign in support of al-Hariri in the streets of Beirut (Photo: AP)
A sign in support of al-Hariri in the streets of Beirut (Photo: AP)

 

A second source, a senior politician close to Saudi-allied Hariri, said Saudi Arabia had ordered him to resign and put him under house arrest. A third source familiar with the situation said Saudi Arabia was controlling and limiting his movement.

 

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said he will not consider the premier's resignation until the two meet in person.

 

The Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, where al-Hariri is believed to be held (Photo: Reuters)
The Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, where al-Hariri is believed to be held (Photo: Reuters)

 

Al-Hariri's shock resignation, read out on television from Saudi Arabia, pitched Lebanon into a deep political crisis and pushed the country back to the forefront of a regional struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

 

It has fuelled speculation in Lebanon that the Sunni Muslim politician, long an ally of Riyadh, was coerced into stepping down by the Saudis.

 

Saudi Arabia and members of al-Hariri's Future Movement have denied reports that he is under house arrest. But he has put out no statements himself denying his movements are being restricted. He made a one-day flying visit to the United Arab Emirates earlier this week before returning to Saudi Arabia.

 


First published: 09.11.17, 21:34
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