RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has urged all its citizens to leave Lebanon at once, a call that adds fire to the emerging political crisis in Beirut after the still unaccepted resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri who is in Riyadh.
The official news agency SPA quoted an official source in the foreign ministry on Thursday as saying: “Due to the situations in the Republic of Lebanon, the official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Saudi nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon are asked to leave the country as soon as possible.
“The Kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations.”
The call comes amid the resignation of Al-Hariri, who was the prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and took office again in November 2016. He first left for Riyadh and then from there he resigned alleging he feared for his life, but his petition was turned down by President Michel Aoun.
The former minister explained his move with concerns that he could be assassinated like his father and criticised the Lebanon-based Hezbollah paramilitary and political movement, accusing Iran of alleged attempts to bring destruction to the region. Iran has warned Saudi Arabia is meddling in Lebanon’s internal affairs and has called a Washington-Riyadh’s plot against Tehran and to bring instability in Lebanon and the region.
Hariri’s resignation came in the wake of a statement by Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan, who stated that Riyadh expected Lebanon to ‘act to deter’ Hezbollah movement, which is included in the country’s government, as it is allegedly posing a threat to Saudi Arabia.