Saudi Arabia bans all Lebanese imports, expels ambassador

The moves come days after footage surfaced of Lebanon’s information minister criticizing the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Beirut, Lebanon Saudi Arabia has banned all imports from Lebanon and gave the Lebanese ambassador 48 hours to leave the kingdom after images surfaced earlier this week of a minister criticizing the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, the agency reported. state news SPA.

Saudi Arabia also prohibited its citizens from traveling to Lebanon and called its ambassador.

“The Kingdom government regrets the results of relations with the Lebanese Republic because the Lebanese authorities ignored the facts and their continued lack of corrective measures,” the statement issued by SPA on Friday read.

Ties between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were already strained, as they soured further on Tuesday after images began circulating online of Information Minister George Kordahi, making critical remarks about the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels. in Yemen. He said the televised interview was recorded more than a month before he was appointed minister.

Kordahi said the Houthis aligned with Iran are “defending themselves … against external aggression.”

The former celebrity TV host also called the long-running war “futile” and called for an end, which offended the forces of the Saudi-led coalition.

The game show host-turned-minister said his comments were a personal opinion and were made before joining the government, but said he refuses to be blackmailed by any entity.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain summoned their ambassadors to Lebanon in response to the comments, while the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also includes Qatar and Oman, condemned Kordahi’s comments.

There were some calls from pro-Saudi leaders for Kordahi to be removed from the government.

Lebanese authorities, including Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun, rejected Kordahi’s comments, saying they do not reflect the Lebanese government’s position.

“It is true that we disassociate ourselves from conflicts, but we do not disassociate ourselves from any position that is in solidarity with Saudi Arabia or the Gulf countries,” Mikati said in a press release earlier this week.

Saudi Arabia accused Iranian-backed Hezbollah of influencing what they said was Lebanon’s inadequate response to Kordahi’s comments. Hezbollah, which Saudi Arabia considers a terrorist organization, backs the Houthis in Yemen and has praised Kordahi for his comments.

“[Hezbollah] made Lebanon a stage and a launching pad to implement projects from countries that do not want the best for Lebanon and its brother people, ”the Saudi statement read.

The Lebanese Information Minister’s statements were the latest in a series of disputes between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia over the past year.

Saudi Arabia designated Hezbollah’s financial institution, Al-Qard Al-Hassan, as a “terrorist entity” on Wednesday, and has imposed an indefinite ban on Lebanese agricultural products and goods since April after foiling an attempt to smuggle more than five million illegal Captagon amphetamine pills hidden. in a shipment of grenades into the port of Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia’s statement on Friday also said that Lebanon has not “taken the measures demanded by the Kingdom to stop the export of the scourge of drugs from Lebanese exports to the Kingdom.”

In May, Lebanon’s then acting Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe resigned after hinting that the Gulf countries were behind the rise of ISIL (ISIS) in a heated discussion with Saudi lobbyist Salman al-Ansari on Alhurra TV.

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