Iraqis continue to flock to Lebanon despite threat of wider war

Since last year the Lebanese government has decided to waive visa requirements for Iraqis aiming to bolster Lebanon’s tourism sector. [Getty]

Despite escalating tensions and the looming threat of a broader regional conflict involving Israel and Hezbollah militants, Iraqis continue to travel to Lebanon, as reported by Iraqi tourism companies to The New Arab.

“Iraqis are visiting Lebanon daily, either individually or through tourism groups, and everything is normal,” a Baghdad-based tourism company disclosed to TNA on condition of anonymity.

In the northern Kurdistan region’s Sulaimaniyah province, another company noted an increase in Iraqi visitors to Lebanon compared to the previous year.

Since last year, the Lebanese government has decided to waive visa requirements for Iraqis, aiming to bolster Lebanon’s tourism sector amidst economic challenges exacerbated by security tensions and the devaluation of the Lebanese Lira.

Efforts to obtain comments from Ahmed al-Shaf, spokesperson for Iraq’s foreign ministry, and Dilan Ghafur, head of the foreign relations committee in the Iraqi parliament, were unsuccessful.

As fears of a potential Israel-Hezbollah conflict increase, multiple countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, North Macedonia, the United States, Russia, and Kuwait, have urged their nationals to leave Lebanon or not to go to the parts of the country.

Tensions along Lebanon‘s border with Israel have escalated, with frequent exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli forces. Israel’s ongoing military offensives in Gaza have heightened regional anxiety, with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant warning of potentially severe consequences if conflict were to escalate.

Gallant said during a visit to Washington on Wednesday that his country could “take Lebanon back to the Stone Age, but we don’t want to do it.”

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has also issued threats, responding to Israel’s military preparations with vows of resistance and inflicting severe damage to Israel.

Israel‘s war on Gaza has killed at least 37,718 people, according to the territory’s health ministry.

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