Serious diplomatic crisis between Gulf monarchies and Lebanon amid tensions with Iran – RT in French
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A diplomatic crisis has erupted between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon following remarks by a Lebanese minister on the war in Yemen. Riyadh recalled its ambassador to Beirut and asked the Lebanese ambassador to leave his territory.
The United Arab Emirates recalled its diplomats on October 30 in Beirut, the fourth Arab Gulf monarchy to take retaliatory measures against Lebanon after remarks by a Lebanese minister criticizing Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the war in Yemen . A crisis that goes beyond the minister’s words and reflects a struggle for influence between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, of which Lebanon is paying a heavy price.
In a television program dated August 5 and broadcast on October 25, George Kordahi, who was not yet a minister, had described the intervention of the military coalition led by Riyadh in the war in Yemen opposing since then “absurd”. 2014 power and rebels, claiming that the insurgents were defending themselves “against external aggression”. Intervening since 2015 in Yemen, this coalition in which the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain also participate supports the power in the face of rebels supported by Iran, which has always denied accusations that it is providing arms to the Houthis.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati stood out from the words of Information Minister George Kordahi, appointed to the government by a Christian party allied with the pro-Iranian movement Hezbollah, a heavyweight in Lebanese politics, and implicitly called on him to to resign.
But after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates have therefore announced the withdrawal of their diplomats from Lebanon in “solidarity” with Riyadh. They further banned Emirati citizens from traveling to Lebanon. Kuwait announced the same day the recall of its Lebanese ambassador and the departure of the Lebanese charge d’affaires within 48 hours. A decision explained by the “failure” of the Lebanese government to “respond to the unacceptable and reprehensible remarks made against Saudi Arabia and the rest of the [six pays] of the Gulf Cooperation Council ”(GCC). Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese work in the countries forming the GCC – Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.
Riyadh worries about “the dominance of Hezbollah over the political system in Lebanon”
Qatar, for its part, condemned George Kordahi’s “irresponsible” remarks, but it did not take retaliatory measures, only calling on the Lebanese government to act “to overcome the dissension between brothers”. In quarrel for three years, Qatar and Saudi Arabia resumed at the beginning of the year. Riyadh had, among other things, criticized Doha for drawing closer to Shiite Iran, the great rival of Sunni Saudi Arabia. And Oman called on different parties to work “to avoid escalation and settle disputes through dialogue.”
Leader of the GCC, the Saudi kingdom was the first to recall on October 29 its ambassador to Lebanon and to decide the expulsion of the Lebanese ambassador. He also decided to stop all Lebanese imports. “There is no crisis with Lebanon but a crisis in Lebanon because of Iranian hegemony […] The dominance of Hezbollah over the political system in Lebanon worries us, ”Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal ben Farhan told Al-Arabiya television channel on October 30. Bahrain has also decided to expel the Lebanese ambassador.
These serious tensions come as the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati relies on potential financial aid from the wealthy Gulf monarchies to revive the economy of the collapsing country.
“A balance of power between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon”
“Saudi Arabia considers Lebanon to be a vassal country […] Any speech which could go against the official speech is immediately condemned ”, analyzed on RT France Benoît Muracciole, president of the association Action security ethic republican (ASER). The geopolitical specialist also explained that George Kordahi’s remarks were not so much a “denunciation of crimes against humanity of which the population of Yemen is currently the victim”, as “a balance of power between the Iran, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon ”, the Minister of Information being a supporter of the Shiite bloc against the Sunni countries.
After the outcry, George Kordahi stressed that his comments reflected his personal opinion before his appointment as Minister of Information, refusing to apologize. Najib Mikati for his part said “deeply regret” Riyadh’s decision, and insisted that George Kordahi’s remarks “in no way reflected the government’s position”. But Hezbollah, Iran’s staunch ally, has made it known that it is opposed to any resignation.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah, said he was “concerned about having the best relations with sister Saudi Arabia”, criticizing those “who cause crises between the two countries”. After the meeting in Beirut of a crisis cell formed by Najib Mikati in the presence of the number two of the American embassy, Richard Michaels, the Minister of Education Abbas Halabi declared to have “good hope” to settle the crisis with the Gulf monarchies.
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