Security measures were reportedly boosted Saturday near the Saudi Embassy on Beirut’s Bliss Street, following a further deterioration in ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. An-Nahar newspaper reported that strict security measures were implemented at the Saudi Embassy after Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri received death threats. The nature of the threats was not specified in the report. Asiri had revealed in an interview with the London-based, Qatar-backed, daily newspaper Al-Arabi al-Jadid that he had recently been subject to extortion, but he preferred not to reveal who was behind them. “We are taking these threats seriously. But I will continue to do my diplomatic duty and will stay in Lebanon for now,” he said. The diplomatic rift between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia widened after Riyadh upped its measures against Beirut over what it deemed “Hezbollah’s domination over the state.” Around a dozen men raided the Beirut offices of the Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat Friday after the newspaper published a caricature poking fun at Lebanon. Asharq al-Awsat published a picture of the Lebanese flag with the caption “April Fools: The Lebanese state” insinuating that Lebanon itself is an April Fools’ joke. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya also unexpectedly suspended its operations in Lebanon earlier Friday, and shut down its offices in Beirut, citing security concerns. GCC nationals were advised not to travel to Beirut, while the United Arab Emirates banned its nationals from travelling to Lebanon.
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