…By Roland Peterson for TDPel Media.
A Saudi national who was abducted in Beirut has been released in a “special operation” conducted by the Lebanese army near the Syrian border, according to a statement issued on Tuesday.
The army reported that an intelligence patrol successfully liberated Mashari al-Mutairi, the kidnapped Saudi national, during the operation.
The army further stated that several individuals involved in the kidnapping were apprehended as well.
A senior Lebanese security source had informed AFP on Monday that the Saudi national was taken captive by unknown attackers disguised as security personnel in a four-wheel drive vehicle near the Beirut seafront, where he had been dining at a restaurant.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati expressed his congratulations to the army for their tremendous efforts in securing the release of the Saudi national and arresting those responsible for the kidnapping.
According to the Saudi government-owned television channel Al-Ekhbariya, the abductors had demanded a ransom.
Kidnappings of Arab or foreign nationals in Lebanon have been infrequent in recent years. The previous incident took place in July 2022 when a Saudi national was kidnapped upon arrival at Beirut airport.
Since 2021, Saudi citizens have been required to obtain permission from their government before traveling to Lebanon due to strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.
In April 2022, Saudi Arabia reinstated its ambassador to Beirut, just over five months after recalling him amidst a diplomatic dispute involving Lebanon and several Gulf monarchies.
Tensions between Beirut and the Gulf Arab states had escalated due to the increasing influence of the pro-Iranian Shiite movement Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Lebanese army’s successful operation in freeing the kidnapped Saudi national has garnered praise from Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
While kidnappings of foreign nationals in Lebanon have been uncommon, the incident highlights the ongoing complexities in the region, including strained diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.