World Saudi, UAE summon Lebanon envoys over minister's Yemen war remarks
What We Have Lost
In three distinct and different places, a similar sense of loss—of liberal values, of freedom, of hope—is overwhelming.Since prodemocracy protests erupted there in 2019, at the same time as anti-corruption demonstrations in Lebanon, I’ve witnessed my own country’s collapse under a plethora of crises: the implosion of its economy, the enormous blast at the Beirut port, and of course the pandemic, all of it wrapped up in endemically corrupt politics and meddling by foreign powers, notably Iran. Decades of progress since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990 have been erased, and thousands of Lebanese are rushing for the exit.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE summoned Lebanon's ambassadors on Wednesday over Information Minister George Kordahi's criticism of the Riyadh-led military coalition fighting rebels in Yemen.
Kordahi said during an interview aired on Monday that the Iran-backed Huthi rebels are "defending themselves... against an external aggression", adding that "homes, villages, funerals and weddings were being bombed" by the coalition.
He also called the seven-year war in Yemen "futile" and "time for it to end".
Yemen: The military coalition announces more than 260 rebels houthis around Marib
© Ali Owidha, Reuters A soldier of Yemeni government forces opens fire on Houthis fighters, Marib, Yemen, March 28, 2021. In Yemen, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia indicated to have shot down on Sunday, 264 Houthis rebels around the city of Marib. This last bastion of the government in northern Yemen has been, since February, the theater of bloody clashes between the hush rebels and the loyalistic forces.
Tens of thousands of people -- most of them civilian -- have died and millions have been displaced, in what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said in a statement that it handed the ambassador a memorandum protesting Kordahi's "offensive" remarks.
It also expressed its regret over the "insulting" statements, saying they were "clearly biased towards the terrorist Huthi militia that threatens the security and stability of the region".
Shortly after, the United Arab Emirates -- a member of the coalition -- condemned Kordahi's statements and said it too called in the Lebanese ambassador.
Kordahi's "disgraceful and biased" comments "offended the member countries of the coalition," it said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.
Saudi recalls envoy to Lebanon over Yemen comments
Saudi Arabia said Friday it was recalling its ambassador to Lebanon and giving Beirut's envoy 48 hours to leave Riyadh, after "insulting" remarks made by a Lebanese minister on the Yemen war. Saudi Arabia ordered the "recall of the ambassador in Lebanon for consultations, and the departure of Lebanon's ambassador to the kingdom within 48 hours", over the "insulting" remarks made this week by Lebanon's information minister, the foreign ministry said.The wealthy Gulf kingdom also "decided to halt all Lebanese imports", citing the "security of the kingdom and its people", a statement added.
On Tuesday, the Lebanese government said that Kordahi's statements were "rejected and did not reflect the position of the government", adding that the interview in question took place before Kordahi was appointed to cabinet in September.
Kordahi, a well-known television presenter, told local reporters on Wednesday that the interview in question took place on August 5 and was his "personal opinion".
"I did not wrong anyone. I did not attack anyone. Why should I apologise?" he said. "I stated my position with love as a human who feels Arab suffering."
Rights groups have harshly criticised the coalition for civilian casualties in its aerial bombardment.
Yemen's civil war began in 2014 when the Huthis gained control of the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.
Lebanon PM urges action to mend Gulf row, govt paralysis .
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati urged feuding politicians Thursday to end government paralysis and mend a damaging row with Gulf Arab states, as rifts threatened his fragile cabinet. "Whoever thinks they can impose their will through political paralysis and escalatory rhetoric is mistaken," Mikati said Thursday, in a thinly veiled criticism of the Shiite group. "We have tried as much as possible to keep the Beirut blast probe under the purview of the judiciary and we have rejected any kind of (political) interference," he added.