Beirut (GPA) – The Saudi government has asked all of their citizens to leave Lebanon immediately causing concern that a war is imminent.
The latest development in the Saudi debacle has come in the form of an announcement by the kingdom’s Foreign Ministry through the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
According to the statement, an “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 statement also went on to caution “The Kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations.”
This latest move by the Saudis comes only days after the country alleged themselves that Lebanon had “declared war” with Riyadh despite the fact that Lebanon hasn’t actually done anything. This all also happened after Saudi businessman/Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation during a trip to Riyadh.
Lebanon is of course home to Hezbollah, a regional rival to Saudi-allied Israel as well as the force that most consistently crushes Saudi proxies across the Middle East. Hezbollah is continuously accused of stockpiling weapons to strike Israel, but recently the Saudis have also claimed the organization is part of an elaborate and convoluted smuggling route that supplies weapons to forces fighting the Saudis in Yemen.
If the resignation of Hariri is an “act of war” it seems that there’s nobody to declare war against since even the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has come out in the past days to say even his organization didn’t want Hariri to resign. The Lebanese government in general also doesn’t understand Hariri’s claims that his life was in danger and have also said nobody was requesting his resignation.
Several Lebanese government officials have spoken to Reuters to say they share the opinion of most of the world that the only people demanding Hariri resign were the Saudis. Other officials in Lebanon have claimed Hariri is essentially a captive of the Saudis now. Hariri’s own Future Movement party has also asked for his return to no avail. Hariri has a major contracting company operating in Saudi Arabia, and it has been speculated Riyadh could have possibly threatened to freeze his assets if he didn’t resign.
While it’s unlikely that Saudi Arabia would be dumb enough to confront their real enemy, Iran directly, they may attempt to isolate Lebanon as they’ve done with Qatar. As of the writing of this article, Kuwait has also advised all of their citizens in Lebanon to consider leaving “as a precautionary measure against any negative impact that might take place.”
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.