Everyone will already be aware of the current escalation in the Middle East. On the 7 th of October the Palestinian group Hamas, which controls Gaza, entered Israeli controlled areas temporarily taking possession of several villages, resulting in the deaths of many individuals and the capture of a large number of hostages. The Israeli government responded in turn by targeting Gaza.
However, because it’s the Middle East it’s not that simple. Due to the complicated patchwork of alliances and fraught relationships, both Lebanon and Syria are increasingly becoming involved in this phase of conflict.
Hezbollah controls much of the south of Lebanon and has vowed to take action against Israel, and as such Israel of course bombed strategic locations in southern Lebanon. Likewise, Iran has also committed to action against Israel, and as such Iranian bases and assets inside Syria have been targeted.
But wait, there’s more. Seeing an opportunity due to attention being focused on the Israeli border, fighting has flared up to its worst in 5 years in the north of Syria, especially around Idlib province, which borders on Aleppo and Hama.
Our tours to Lebanon focus heavily on the south of the country in the Hezbollah controlled areas. Of course, the main reason this region is so interesting is because of the geopolitical considerations and the history of conflict, as well as the on going tension. Because of this we have had to cancel our Lebanon tours.
Likewise, there is a reasonable chance that Iranian and Iraqi militias may launch attacks in the near future from Syria, thus creating unnecessary risks on taking a group there, thus we will be also be cancelling our Syria tours in the short term.
Travelling to dangerous and often war-torn countries is our forte, but we take calculated risks based on predictable developments in the conflicts. For many years we as a company and individuals have worked in Syria and Lebanon during the ongoing crisis but it was a crisis we could easily predict and felt we could confidently provide safe and secure travel.
At the moment this area is completely unpredictable and until the conflict becomes stable once again, we will have to continue to reassess what trips we offer. At no point do we put our guests in irresponsible positions or in any danger and as such we’ve never had a single issue on any of our tours.
Logistically the area is also quite difficult at the moment with most airlines cancelling their flights to and from Beirut, so even if you do still want to go there, it’s actually quite tricky to do so. Even the national airline of Lebanon – Middle East Airlines (MEA) has cancelled most flights and moved their fleet to Turkey as it is a genuine concern that Beirut’s airport will be attacked at some point in the coming weeks or months.
At Saiga Tours we are hoping this conflict will fizzle out and the countries we absolutely love, Lebanon and Syria, can return to normal. Well, normal by Lebanese and Syrian standards. We also think things will be safe again to travel in the very near future, however for the moment we can’t take that risk. We also hope for everyone in the Middle East that as little harm as possible is done to all sides of the conflict.
We will continue to keep everyone updated and continue to schedule future trips to these two amazing destinations.