Following the critical statements from Lebanon’s Information Minister against the Saudi military role in Yemen, after which the Kingdom banned all imports from Lebanon and gave the Lebanese ambassador 48 hours to depart, the Arab League expressed alarm over the rapid deterioration of Lebanese-Gulf ties.
Saudi Arabia also withdrew its ambassador and prohibited its nationals from visiting Lebanon.
On Saturday, it urged Gulf nations to “reflect on the measures proposed to be taken… in order to avoid further negative effects on the collapsing Lebanese economy,” according to a statement quoting Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
“… Aboul Gheit expressed his deep concern and regret over the rapid deterioration in Lebanese-Gulf relations…,” the statement said, adding that he was optimistic that Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Najib Mikati would move swiftly to resolve the problem.
Bahrain ordered the Lebanese ambassador to leave the country within two days after Saudi Arabia made its decision, according to Bahrain’s foreign ministry. The following day, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also ordered the withdrawal of its ambassadors and advised its citizens not to travel to Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Kuwait summoned its ambassador in Beirut for consultation on Saturday, and the Lebanese envoy in Kuwait City was given 48 hours to depart the country, according to the Gulf country’s foreign ministry.
Ties between Beirut and Riyadh were already tense, but they deteriorated further on Tuesday as a video emerged showing Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi criticizing Saudi Arabia’s military presence in Yemen against Houthi rebels.
The television interview, he added, was taped more than a month before he was named minister, in which the former famous TV host labeled the long-running conflict “futile” and demanded an end to it.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors to Lebanon earlier this week in reaction to Kordahi’s statements, while the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also includes Qatar and Oman, criticized Kordahi’s remarks.