Saudi Arabia has advised its citizens not to travel to Lebanon and asked those who are in the country to leave as soon as possible.
The official news agency SPA quoted an official source in the foreign ministry on Thursday as saying: “Due to the situations in the Republic of Lebanon, the official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Saudi nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon are asked to leave the country as soon as possible.
“The Kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations.”
Lebanon has been edge after the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who announced his departure while on a visit to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
His whereabouts have since been unknown. However, officials on Thursday told Al Jazeera that Hariri may be under house arrest or temporarily detained in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Lebanon said that the country’s President, Michel Aoun, would soon call for assistance from the international community, the Arab League, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Russia – to help uncover the reason behind Hariri’s unexpected resignation.
Reuters news agency reported on Thursday, citing a senior Lebanese official, that the Lebanese government has not received Hariri’s official resignation papers, and as such still considers him as prime minister. The official added that the restrictions imposed by Saudi Arabia act as an “attack on Lebanon’s leaders”.
Riyadh has denied that the prime minister is under house arrest.
In his November 4 resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister, Hariri implicitly blamed Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, for his decision. In his speech he said that he suspected there were plans to target his life.
Hariri made the statement during a visit to Saudi Arabia, and said Iran planted “disorder and destruction” in the country and meddled in the internal issues of Lebanon as well as other Arab countries.
Referring to Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, Hariri said, “Iran’s arm … has managed to impose a fait accompli on Lebanon through the power of its weapons” in the last few decades.
“They have built a state within a state,” Hariri said from Riyadh.
Hariri, a leading Sunni politician, has been in office for less than a year, but previously served as prime minister between 2009 and 2011.