New developments on the threat to the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon…and the Emirati ambassador as well. Bomb laden BMWs…hmm, wonder who could be planning that? Declining comment or to point the finger…hmm, wonder why Saudi would do that? Lebanese response here.
Lebanon – Sports and Youth Minister Ahmed Fatfat on Monday confirmed that both the Saudi and the United Arab Emirates ambassadors to Lebanon have received death threats.
“Threats directed at the Saudi and the United Arab Emirates embassies are not new,” Fatfat told the Voice of Lebanon radio station.
Fatfat said the threats are one of 100 items to be discussed at a cabinet session scheduled for later Monday.
Future television on Sunday said that Saudi ambassador to Lebanon Abdul Aziz Khoja and his UAE counterpart Mohammed Sultan al-Suwaidi had both received “direct” death threats.
Khoja, according to a senior Lebanese official, left Lebanon on August 17 after the embassy formally notified the Lebanese foreign ministry of a “threat of attack against the ambassador’s residence, the embassy or other Saudi interests in Lebanon.”
The Saudi embassy declined comment but an Arab diplomat confirmed the details.
The embassy cited warnings from the Saudi intelligence services that a stolen BMW was being readied to commit “a terrorist act against Saudi interests in Lebanon,” the diplomat said.
Khoja on Monday was quoted as saying that “exaggeration” was not his intention.
“I don’t want to exaggerate (the threats) and I don’t know why it had been exaggerated in Beirut,” Khoja said in an interview with the daily As Safir published Monday.
He hailed Lebanese security forces who “continue to undertake measures around the embassy and I am confident they are fulfilling their duties to the fullest extent.”
Khoja assured that he will resume work “at the end of my summer vacation.”
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is a key financier of Lebanon and a staunch backer of the Prime Minister Fouad Saniora’s majority government.
Khoja had been involved in efforts to broker an end to the rift with pro-Syrian factions that has paralyzed Saniora’s legislative agenda.
Early last week, he held talks with the pro-Syrian speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri, who has refused to recognize the Saniora government since six pro-Syrian ministers quit in November.
Lebanon has been hit by a wave of attacks in recent years targeting anti-Syrian politicians, most infamously the 2005 murder of five-time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a billionaire businessman who held joint Lebanese and Saudi citizenship.(Naharnet-AFP)