Amid growing tensions in the region, Saudi Arabia and its allies, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, ordered their civilians to leave Lebanon in a move that may be a prelude to war.
“Due to the current situation in Lebanon, the kingdom has asked its citizens, whether visiting or residents, to leave Lebanon as soon as possible. We also advise citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any international destination,” the Saudia Arabia Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Saudi Arabia accused Lebanon of declaring war. The tensions are focused on the role of Hezbollah in Lebanon, highlighting the religious basis of the conflict. Hezbollah is the Iranian proxy in the region, representing the Shiite aspirations. Saudi Arabia, host to Mecca, is the leader of Sunni Islam.
Last Saturday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation while on a visit to Riyadh, stating that Hezbollah had made his job impossible.
Saudi Arabia is also fraught with internal turmoil. This week saw surprise arrests of about 200 Saudis, including 11 princes, in what the government describes as an anti-corruption campaign. Many see the move as a consolidation of power by the new Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.