Saudi Arabia on Tuesday urged its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon days after Riyadh cut $4 billion in funding to Lebanese security forces.
Carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the Saudi Foreign Ministry’s announcement, gave no reason for the warning aside from unspecified safety concerns. It also called on nationals residing in or visiting Lebanon to leave unless their staying is “extremely necessary,” SPA reported.
An unnamed Saudi official said in the announcement that the kingdom had found “hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state.”
Saudi ally the United Arab Emirates followed suit but went further, banning its citizens from traveling to Lebanon and planning to reduce its diplomatic representation there.
The Saudi official, cited by SPA, said Friday that the country was halting deals supporting forces in Lebanon after Lebanon failed to denounce January attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran at the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Saudi-Iranian relations have worsened as the Shiite militant group Hezbollah—based in Lebanon and backed by Iran—continues to fight in support of Syria’s regime.
Alleged leaders of the militant group are under sanction by Saudi Arabia.
In 2012, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar previously ordered their citizens out of
Lebanon after 30 Syrians were kidnapped in retaliation for a Lebanese
Shia kidnapping by rebels fighting in Syria.