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Lebanese minister in eye of Gulf diplomatic storm says won’t resign

kordahi - afp
In this file photo taken on September 13, 2021, Lebanon's Minister of Information George Kordahi speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of the capital Beirut. after "insulting" remarks made by Kordahi on the Yemen war. (Photo: Agence France-Presse)
BEIRUT — Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi said Sunday that resigning was “out of the question”, after his remarks on Yemen’s war sparked a diplomatic row between Beirut and Arab Gulf states.اضافة اعلان

“My resignation is out of the question,” Kordahi told Lebanese television channel Al-Jadeed on Sunday, without elaborating.

In an interview recorded in August and aired this week, Kordahi said Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen were “defending themselves ... against an external aggression”, sparking angry rebukes from Saudi Arabia and its allies and calls for his resignation.

A Saudi-led military coalition that has included the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain intervened to prop up the Yemeni government in 2015, after Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa in 2014. 

Saudi Arabia on Friday gave Lebanon’s ambassador 48 hours to leave the country, recalled its envoy from Beirut and suspended all imports from Lebanon.

Bahrain and Kuwait quickly followed suit with similar measures and the UAE on Saturday recalled its diplomats from Beirut in “solidarity” with Riyadh.
The Saudi foreign ministry said the moves were taken after the “insulting” remarks on the Yemen war, but also due to the influence of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah.

Kordahi, who was nominated by the Marada Movement, a Christian party allied to Hezbollah, was not a minister at the time of the remarks.
Both Hezbollah and the Marada have rejected calls for his dismissal.

The diplomatic crisis is a fresh blow to Lebanon, a country in financial and political turmoil where a fragile government is struggling to secure international aid, including from wealthy Arab countries.

On Saturday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told CNBC that Kordahi’s comments “are a symptom of a reality — a reality that the political scene in Lebanon continues to be dominated by Hezbollah”.

“For us it is broader than just the comments of one minister. It is more an indication of the state that Lebanon is in,” he said.

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