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Saudis, Qataris Urged to Leave Lebanon as Threats Grow

Published: August 16, 2012 | 8:19 am
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Persian Gulf states urged their citizens to leave Lebanon after kidnapping threats were made against them following the abduction of a Lebanese man in Syria, raising concern that the Syrian crisis was spilling across borders.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Beirut and United Arab Emirates Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Juma Mubarak Al Jenaibi said their country’s nationals should leave immediately, as did Qatar and Bahrain. Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry issued a similar warning “in anticipation of a spill-over from the Syrian crisis,” the state news agency KUNA reported.

The call came after the Meqdad clan, an extended family that belongs mostly to Lebanon’s Muslim Shiite community, kidnapped 20 Syrians in retaliation for the abduction of one of its members in Syria, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing a family spokesman. The clan also seized a Turkish national in Lebanon and the spokesman, who wasn’t named, threatened to capture Saudis and Qataris, LBC said.

Turkey and Gulf states including Saudi Arabia and Qatar have backed the opposition against President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, where fighting has taken on an increasingly sectarian character. Many rebels are Sunni Muslims, while the government is dominated by members of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation early today suspended Syria from the 57-nation group with OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu saying the move is a sign that the world needs to intervene in Syria.

Fighting Toll
More than 21,000 people have been killed in Syria since protests began more than 17 months ago, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Brent oil for September settlement rose after the Saudi announcement to a three-month intraday high of $116.72 a barrel. Futures gained $2.22, or 1.9 percent, to end the session at $116.25 a barrel in New York.

The road leading to Beirut’s international airport was reopened after overnight riots by the families of Lebanese being held in Syria, according to the National News Agency. The protesters had burned tires to block the road. Soldiers were deployed on the airport road to secure it, the official agency said.

Lebanon’s official news agency reported that an Air France (AF) flight with 174 passengers on board changed its itinerary and landed in Amman, the Jordanian capital, instead of Beirut because of the demonstrations.

Lebanon is a popular destination for Gulf residents in the summer.


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