Anticipating a spillover of the Syrian crisis, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have asked their citizens to leave Lebanon immediately.
The appeal was made after members of the Lebanon Muslim Shiite community kidnapped 20 Syrians and a Turkish citizen, and threatened to do the same against citizens of the Gulf States as a retaliation to the kidnapping earlier in the week of a Lebanese man in Syria. It also follows a move by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to suspend Syria from its ranks.
Most of the Gulf States governments are backing the opposition in Syria against the Assad government, which is dominated by Shiite Muslims of the Alawite sect.
Concerns are now running rampant in the region that the Syrian crisis has become sectarian and is spilling across borders. The Secretary General of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, is reported to have indicated that the decision to suspend Syria "signals that the world needs to intervene".
In the meantime, the main road to the Beirut Airport has been reopened, after it was blocked by burning tires left there by protesting members of the families of Lebanese held in Syria.