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March 3, 2008
Terror threats against Saudis in Lebanon
Threats of terrorist actions against Saudi citizens has prompted the government to urge non essential personnel to leave Lebanon in the next 48 hours.
The threats are specific and credible:
The Saudis have specific reasons. They have received specific threats," Lebanon's acting Foreign Minister Tareq Mitri told LBC earlier, also without elaborating. This is extremely troubling. It reveals a country tipping toward the abyss of civil war. The Saudis, perhaps Lebanon's best friend, would not make this decision lightly. If they are pulling out, expect others to follow shortly.
Lebanese and Saudi officials on Saturday said Saudi Arabia was advising its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately or exercise extreme caution because of heightened political unrest.
A Saudi diplomatic source said the car of a Saudi diplomat was hit by gunfire on Friday night in Beirut, but the occupants of the car escaped unharmed. The incident occurred as supporters of opposition Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri fired into the air to celebrate a television interview that he was giving, the source said.
Several Saudi nationals in Lebanon on Saturday also reported receiving calls or mobile text messages (sms) from their embassy, urging them to leave the country. One Saudi citizen said he was told by the embassy that women and children in particular were advised to leave within 48 hours.
What kind of threats? Kidnapping is always a threat in Lebanon but I think this involves direct action against Saudi citizens and perhaps the embassy itself. The Saudis are generally respected by both sides in the conflict for their assistance in rebuilding Lebanon in the 1990's following the civil war. But lately, King Abdullah's efforts at resolving the political crisis have failed because increasingly, he is being seen as an agent of America.
Until there is some kind of resolution to the presidency crisis, Lebanon will be in danger.