» 08/16/2012 MIDDLE EAST Five 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 Syrian conflict.
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.
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".
all these months of conflict, dozens of Syrians have been kidnapped in Lebanon.
same time, many Lebanese in Syria have been kidnapped. Among
these, ten taken by rebels during clashes on the border between Syria and
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.
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.