Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Lebanon’s information minister quits to ease Saudi dispute

Lebanon's information minister resigned on Friday saying he was putting the nation before his personal interest as he sought to end a diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia sparked by his comments.

George Kordahi stated he had quit before the French president visited Riyadh in the hope Emmanuel Macron would help ease the crisis sparked by the Lebanese TV host-turned-politican’s critical remarks about Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen war.

Saudi Arabia expelled Lebanon’s envoy to the kingdom, recalled its ambassador to Beirut and banned Lebanese imports after Kordahi’s comments which Riyadh said were a symptom of the wider issue of Iran-backed Hezbollah’s grip on Lebanon.

Other Persian Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, followed Saudi Arabia’s lead with similar measures against Lebanon.

Kordahi, a Christian whose Marada party is backed by Hezbollah, had refused to resign in the weeks afterwards even as Prime Minister Najib Mikati asked him to put “national interest” first.

“I understood from Mikati … that the French want my resignation to take place ahead of his (Macron’s) visit,” Kordahi told a news conference, adding he believed Mikati had assurances that Macron would discuss Lebanon’s ties with Riyadh.

His resignation also aimed to prevent any punitive action against the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese living in Persian Gulf Arab states, he noted.

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