KUWAIT CITY, Feb 24, (AFP): Kuwait on Wednesday became the latest Gulf state to urge its citizens to leave Lebanon following tensions over the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah which is fighting to support Syria’s regime. In a statement cited by the official KUNA news agency, the Kuwaiti embassy in Beirut also asked Kuwaitis to postpone any planned travel to Lebanon.
The mission said all citizens should leave “except in extreme circumstances,” and advised those who stay to exercise caution and avoid unspecifi ed places which are not safe. The statement gave no reason for the move. The Sunni-ruled countries of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have already urged their nationals to leave Lebanon and ordered others to stop travelling there.
Riyadh, which supports the Syrian opposition, has also halted a $3 billion military funding programme for Beirut in response to “hostile” positions linked to Hezbollah. Syria’s war has exacerbated political rivalries within Lebanon, which has been without a president for almost two years because of fi erce disagreements between Iran-backed Hezbollah and its rivals. Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran last month after demonstrators stormed its embassy and a consulate following the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.