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Gulf residents leaving Lebanon

‘Lebanon is a beautiful country being destroyed by thugs’

Image Credit: REUTERS
Gunmen from the Meqdad clan gather at the Meqdadfamily’s association headquarters in the southern suburbsin Beirut on Wednesday.
Gulf News

Beirut: Gulf residents with the means to leave Beirut were doing so, with most airlines carrying full loads. A Saudi national, who preferred not to be named was scheduled to fly out yesterday morning was visibly upset on Wednesday evening, unsure whether he and his family would make it to the airport to catch their flight.

“This is a great country,” he mused, “but in the hands of thugs who will ensure its complete destruction.” “Few remember all of the Lebanese, Arab and Western hostages who lingered for months and years,” he recollected in an expressive telephone conversation, “and the irony of the situation is that yesterday’s kidnappers are now tasting a bit of their own remedy.”“The storm in Syria has now reached Lebanon,” insisted my Saudi interlocutor over the telephone, “and I hope that Lebanon will be spared a new civil war.”

“There are few patriots in Lebanon,” he persevered, “since one cannot be one when you are a follower.” Challenged by militia activities in the heart of the capital, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman received several telephone calls from Gulf rulers who expressed their support for his government, though they insisted that Beirut regain control over its streets.

A high-ranking ministry of foreign affairs official confirmed that Qatar and the UAE issued stern diplomatic warnings that any kidnapping of their citizens on Lebanese soil would be met by stringent measures against Lebanese, , in their own countries. Turkey issued a similar warning, claimed the same source, though Ankara was now confronted with the fate of its abducted national.

The President of the Republic also met with the chiefs of the Lebanese security agencies, and spoke with both the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, as well as Prime Minister Najib Miqati who was at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Summit in Makkah. \

Suleiman warned against “jeopardising the security of the Lebanese citizens and foreigners in Lebanon … under any excuses,” noting that “spreading chaos cannot secure the release of any abductees.”

Moreover, he also called on security forces to “prevent the blocking of roads and protect the embassies of the friendly and brotherly countries, especially Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Syria.” In addition to Suleiman, Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblatt notified the Meqdad family via Hezballah that it would “react severely” to the kidnapping of any Syrian in Druze areas of Lebanon, while Al Mustaqbal [Future] Movement along with Salafi clerics warned of any problems in Sunni areas too.