Arab Countries Advise Citizens to
Leave Lebanon for Fear of "Pro-Syrian" Violence
Yesterday road to airport occupied by Shiites after (false)
reports of the killing of 11 pilgrims. Air France diverts a flight
from Beirut to Cyprus. Shiite clans kidnapp Syrians, a Turk and a
Saudi linked to the Free Syrian Army in retaliation for capture of a
group of Lebanese Shiites by Syrian opposition.
Beirut (AsiaNews): Five countries of the Arabian
Peninsula - Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait - one
after the other, have issued warnings to their nationals to
leave Lebanon for fear of potential threats related to the
The proximity to the Syrian border and the close bonds between
Lebanon's Shiite community and the Alawites in Syria is creating
a lot of tension in the country of the cedars, with the
political class divided on its stance toward its neighbor, whose
army occupied Lebanon for nearly 30 years.
Yesterday several Lebanese reported news of the death of 11
pilgrims in an air raid in the town of Azaz, near Aleppo. The
report - later proved false - pushed hundreds of people in the
southern suburbs (inhabited mostly by Shiites) to block the road
to the airport, which is located nearby (see photo). This in
turn forced an Air France flight to Beirut, to divert and land
in Cyprus "as a precautionary measure".
In all these months of conflict, dozens of Syrians have been
kidnapped in Lebanon. At the same time, many Lebanese in Syria
have been kidnapped. Among these, ten taken by rebels during
clashes on the border between Syria and Turkey. The rebels
accuse the captured Lebanese of being members of the 1500
Hezbollah army that arrived in Syria to support Bashar al-Assad.
In retaliation, clan Shiites in Lebanon kidnapped 20 people,
accused of being in contact with the Free Syrian Army, the army
of deserters fighting against the dictatorship in Damascus.
Among them are also some Syrians, a Turkish businessman and a
Saudi. Shiites clans have threatened new kidnappings. Saudi
Arabia, Qatar, Emirates are all lined up against Assad and
providing financial and military support to the opposition.
Hence the decision to push their citizens to leave Lebanon.
Beirut, the Lebanese coast and the mountains have for decades
been a tourist destination for the countries of the Arabian
Peninsula. Their warning, in addition to causing economic
problems in Lebanon shows that the Syrian conflict is spreading
throughout the region.