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Lebanon envoys in Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait expelled

30 Oct 2021 By AFP

Kuwait City, Kuwait – Kuwait gave Lebanon’s ambassador 48 hours to leave the emirate on Saturday, a day after Saudi Arabia and Bahrain made a similar move over a minister’s comments about its war in Yemen.

The diplomatic row, which has also seen Bahrain expel Lebanon’s envoy, has dealt another blow to Lebanon, already in the midst of crippling political and economic crises.

“Kuwait… asks Lebanese envoy to leave country in 48 hours,” Kuwait’s foreign ministry said on Saturday in a brief statement carried by state news agency KUNA.

The statement added that Kuwait’s top diplomat to Beirut was also being recalled.

The dispute intensified on Friday after the broadcast this week of an interview in which Lebanon’s Information Minister George Kordahi criticised the war in Yemen.

In his remarks – recorded in August but aired on Monday – Kordahi called the seven-year war in the Arabian Peninsula country “futile” and said it was “time for it to end”.

Kordahi said Yemen’s Huthi rebels were “defending themselves… against an external aggression”, adding that “homes, villages, funerals and weddings were being bombed” by a Saudi-led coalition.

The Huthis are backed by Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran, which also wields significant influence in Lebanon, due to its strong backing of the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah.

‘Unacceptable’

Lebanon’s Information Minister George Kordahi (AFP)

Kuwait’s foreign ministry said the expulsion and recall was based on the “failure” of the Lebanese government to “address the unacceptable and reprehensible statements against the sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the rest” of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

The GCC is a six-member regional body that includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.

Kuwait’s decision was also based on “the failure of the Government of the Lebanese Republic to take the necessary measures to deter the continuous and increasing smuggling operations of the scourge of drugs to Kuwait and the rest of the GCC,” the ministry added.

The comments on smuggling also echo Riyadh’s line, which extended to Saudi Arabia on Friday imposing a suspension on all imports from Lebanon.

Lebanon is in the grip of an economic and financial crisis seen by the World Bank as one of the word’s worst since the 1850s.

The United Arab Emirates meanwhile has summoned Lebanon’s ambassador over Kordahi’s comments.

Saudi Arabia, which wields strong influence over many of the smaller Gulf states, has stepped back from its former ally Lebanon in recent years, angered by the influence of Hezbollah.

In late 2017, Lebanon’s then prime minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni who had been supported by Saudi Arabia for years, announced in a televised address from Riyadh that he was resigning, citing Iran’s ‘grip’ on his country.

He spent two weeks in Riyadh amid speculation he was being kept under house arrest there, before France intervened. He withdrew his resignation after arriving back in Lebanon.

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