Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Bahrain says to restore full diplomatic relations with Lebanon

Bahrain has announced it will restore full diplomatic relations with Lebanon following a row over the Saudi-led war against Yemen that saw the two countries break ties for a year and a half.

Manama said on Saturday it was bringing an end to the impasse, a move welcomed by Beirut.

Bahrain and other Persian Gulf countries followed Saudi Arabia in recalling their diplomats from Lebanon in October 2021 after the then-information minister, George Kordahi, was quoted as criticising the Saudi role in the war in Yemen, which has produced what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Kordahi said in an interview, which he gave a month before his appointment but it later surfaced online, that the Iran-aligned Houthis were “defending themselves … against an external aggression” in Yemen. He also said the long-running conflict was “futile” and called for it to end.

In response, Riyadh recalled its ambassador and ordered Lebanon’s envoy to leave the kingdom. Its Gulf allies – the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain – followed suit, expelling Lebanon’s envoys.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain has decided to restore diplomatic representation” at the ambassador level in Lebanon, the Bahraini foreign ministry announced, adding that this would “strengthen the fraternal relations between the two countries”.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati stated the country “appreciated this decision and welcomes it”.

Saudi Arabia returned its envoy to Lebanon in April last year.

The restoration of ties comes amid a number of other efforts to resolve regional disputes, including bringing Syria back into the Arab League. After more than a decade of isolation, Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, attended the regional bloc’s 32nd summit in Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah on Friday.

There has also been a recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia brokered by China.

On May 25, Qatar and Bahrain will resume flights as part of a normalisation of diplomatic relations between them.

In 2017, Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, severed ties and imposed a blockade on Qatar over claims it was too close to Iran and backed hardline groups, allegations Doha has always firmly denied.

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