Saudi Arabia expands Lebanese ambassador over minister rulings

The Saudi government is evicting Lebanon‘s ambassador from the country, state media has announced. The Lebanese diplomat still has 48 hours to leave the country. In turn, the Saudi ambassador to Beirut must return to Saudi Arabia as soon as possible. The government has also stopped imports from Lebanon.

Diplomatic measures are prompted by Lebanese Information Minister Kordahi on the military intervention in Yemen, which began in 2015 under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, among others. In an August television interview, he described that war as โ€œabsurdโ€. He also spoke of aggression from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Footage of the conversation went around on social media this week. Kordahi was not a minister at the time of the interview: he did not become a minister until September, after a career as a TV presenter.

In Yemen, Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, are competing against the government supported by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The United Nations has designated the war as the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.

Lebanese Prime Minister Mikati says he regrets Saudi measures but continues to work on restoring the mutual relationship.

Hizbollah

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon had already risen lately, writes, among others, Al Jazeera. This is particularly related to the influence of the militant Hezbollah battle group in Lebanon, which Saudi Arabia says is becoming too large. Minister Kordahi sympathizes with a political party linked to Hezbollah.

Saudi Arabia sees Hezbollah as a terrorist movement, as does many other countries. The European Union put the military arm of the movement on the terror list in 2013.

Lebanon has been suffering from economic crises and political tensions for years. The devastating explosion in the port of the capital Beirut last year has exacerbated the country’s crisis.