After the deadly bombing yesterday outside of Beirut, Lebanon I am increasingly aware of the security situation in Beirut and am pondering what I am going to do as I am scheduled to visit Beirut and Damascus, Syria in 2 weeks. I am always aware of the events of any country or region that I am going to visit but when they are clearly specifically targeting Americans, it makes me a little nervous of course. I will be monitoring the situation over the next week or so and make a decision. The security situation may also alter my transportation plans between Beirut and Damascus as I was planning on going overland via bus but I may re-evaluate that option and fly instead if I still go.
I really hate the situation in Lebanon right now and certainly over the last three years or so. After coming out of their decades long civil war in the 1980s, there was a long window of calm in the seaside country. I was unable to visit Lebanon in 2000 during a trip to the middle east because I had an Israeli stamp in my passport and they do not allow travelers who have evidence of a trip to Israel in their passport. I was pretty bummed out about that because I have heard such wonderful things about Beirut being the “Paris of the Middle East” and how great the restaurants are there; plus I love Middle Eastern food.
This time I am planning on flying there from London on my way to Dubai and a few other stops. I am not panicking about the bombing at all and I am always vigilant in where I go and what I do when in an unstable or potentially dangerous place but I am also not naive and will monitor the situation closely.
The US Government has not offered a new travel warning since the bombing but are placing restrictions on US diplomats within Lebanon and have asked that all Americans in Lebanon be extra vigilant and use extreme caution. This is of course general warning language that they always say but it should of course be taken to heart.
The best way to keep updated on the situation in a place like Lebanon during a time of turmoil is to obviously pay attention to the news and the Internet and check travel chat rooms like the Thorn Tree forum which is tremendous for gathering information from people who are there firsthand.