Qatar joins Gulf neighbours in Lebanon travel ban

Qatar joins Gulf neighbours in Lebanon travel ban
Qatar has become the latest Gulf state to issue travel warnings to its citizens in Lebanon.
2 min read
25 February, 2016
Qatar's foreign minister announced the travel alert on state TV [Getty]
Qatar has joined neighbouring Gulf states in urging citizens to leave Lebanon or avoid travel there, days after Riyadh cut $4 billion in aid to Lebanese security forces.

Qataris are being told to avoid travelling to Lebanon, while imploring citizens already there "to promptly leave and to exercise extreme caution at all times".

Although Qatar's foreign minister did not give details,  the move follows similar steps taken by its Gulf allies in recent days.

The Kuwaiti embassy in Beirut has also advised Kuwaiti citizens to leave Lebanon, "unless it was necessary to stay", urging them to take precautions during their travels and to avoid "unsafe locations", the state-run news agency KUNA reported on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry had announced in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency that citizens already in Lebanon should depart or be in contact with Riyadh's embassy in Beirut.

The United Arab Emirates promptly followed suit, saying it would pull most of its diplomats out of Lebanon and warned its own citizens not to travel there, according to a statement carried by the state-run WAM news agency. It also did not elaborate or offer a reason for the decision.

The travel alerts come days after Saudi Arabia announced it was halting a $4bn deal aimed at equipping and supporting Lebanese security forces, reportedly due to Beirut siding with Iran in Riyadh's ongoing spat with Tehran.

Lebanon's main political divide pits a Sunni-led coalition against a Shia-led alliance led by the Iran-backed Hizballah movement, and the tiny country has seen a series of militant attacks in recent years linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Bahrain and the UAE, both Sunni-ruled nations, backed Saudi Arabia in its dispute with Iran, which erupted at the beginning of the year when the kingdom executed a prominent Shia cleric and protesters later stormed Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran.

A similar step was previously taken by other Gulf states, when regional tensions first arose over the Syrian civil war which started five years ago.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar previously ordered their citizens out of Lebanon in 2012 after 30 Syrians were kidnapped in retaliation for a Lebanese Shia kidnapping by rebels fighting in Syria.