KHIAM: Black smoke billows following a Zionist air strike that targeted a house in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam near the Lebanese-Zionist border on June 21, 2024. — AFP
KHIAM: Black smoke billows following a Zionist air strike that targeted a house in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam near the Lebanese-Zionist border on June 21, 2024. — AFP

‘Control room’ set up to bring Kuwaitis home from Lebanon

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s foreign ministry is following up on the return of its citizens who are currently in Lebanon after urging them to return home ‘as soon as possible’, the ministry said in a statement Saturday.

Kuwait Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Yahya said in a press statement that the ministry is coordinating with Kuwait Airways to bring back any citizens who wish to return to Kuwait. The country’s national carrier said in a statement Saturday it was operating large planes and increasing capacity in anticipation of Kuwaiti citizens returning home. The Kuwait Embassy in Lebanon, he said, has made the necessary preparations to facilitate the process.

Friday’s advisory is an escalation of another statement released last January, where the foreign ministry urged citizens in Lebanon to “exercise caution or leave willingly to evade any potential military escalation in the area due to the continuous (Zionist) aggression on Gaza.” It came as Zionist media outlet Channel 12 reported that Canada is gearing up for evacuating about 45,000 Canadian citizens currently residing in Lebanon.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly informed her Zionist counterpart, Yisrael Katz, that Canada has already deployed military forces to the region to facilitate the evacuation process if the Zionist war was to escalate in Lebanon. On June 17, Canada updated its Lebanon’s travel advisory risk level to “avoid all travel.”

Call with Blinken

Kuwait’s recommendation to leave Lebanon came within an hour of a foreign ministry statement reporting a phone call between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Al-Yahya. “The Secretary and the Foreign Minister agreed on the need to prevent further escalation and to expand bilateral cooperation in the interest of regional peace and stability,” a US spokesperson said in a press release.

The two also talked about continued measures to ensure more humanitarian aid reaches those in need in Gaza. They also discussed plans for post-conflict governance, security, and reconstruction. The latest advisories were announced after reports by Zionist media outlets, including the news portal Walla, that Hezbollah may be planning a “pre-emptive surprise attack” against the Zionist entity. The heightened tensions follow the Zionist military’s approval of operational plans earlier this week for a wide-scale attack on Lebanon.

‘It’s not that bad’

People on social media had mixed reactions to the advisory. Hussein Hakeem, who said he was in South Lebanon, said the situation was “not that bad”. “Sure, you hear a couple of missile sounds here and there but nothing too serious,” he wrote on Instagram.

Farah Al-Hashem, a Kuwaiti filmmaker living in Lebanon, downplayed the advisory, implying she and others will likely stay in Lebanon. “It’s a precaution. They do it every time there is a security threat. And every time, Kuwaitis go to Lebanon,” she wrote.

Naif Al-Haijri, a Kuwaiti media personality, called on citizens in a video to stop “being stubborn” and avoid going to Lebanon. An Instagram user who goes by the handle @ratooujaa said south Lebanon was in crisis. “Maybe Beirut isn’t (in crisis) but the south is and it can affect the whole country.”

Lebanon has been a top destination for Kuwaitis since the 1920s, with many Kuwaitis purchasing real estate and spending summers in the small country overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Kuwait Times couldn’t obtain an up-to-date official count of Kuwaitis in Lebanon, but their numbers are understood to have dwindled over the years as unstable economic and political conditions persisted in the country. Since late 2019, Lebanon has been grappling with a severe economic crisis, including a massive currency depreciation as well as fuel and medical shortages.

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