Saudi Arabia and the UAE have summoned Labanon's ambassadors to protest against Lebanon's Information Minister George Kordahi’s criticism of the Riyadh-led military coalition fighting rebels in Yemen.
Kordahi said during an interview that the Iran-backed Houthi 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 said it was “time for it to end”.
When asked about drone attacks, which the Houthis have launched repeatedly into Saudi Arabia along with missiles, he answered, “Yes, but see also the damage that is being done to them as a nation … they are being bombed by planes.”
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it handed the ambassador a memorandum protesting against Kordahi’s “offensive” remarks. It also expressed its regret about the “insulting” statements, saying they were “clearly biased towards the terrorist Houthi militia that threatens the security and stability of the region”.
United Arab Emirates – also a member of the coalition – also condemned Kordahi’s statements and said it had also called in the Lebanese ambassador. Kordahi’s “disgraceful and biased” comments “offended the member countries of the coalition,” it said.
Kuwait also summoned Lebanon’s charge d’affaires in protest.
The Gulf Cooperation Council’s secretary-general said Kordahi’s comments reflected little understanding and were a superficial reading of events.
Kordahi explained, “I am against Arab-Arab wars … accusing me of hostility to Saudi Arabia is rejected.”
Saudi Arabia has shunned Lebanon for years because of Hezbollah’s strong influence in Lebanese state affairs, which it also says has sent fighters to Yemen. Saudi Arabia has classified the Lebanon-based Al-Qard Al-Hassan Association as a “terrorist” entity, citing links to activities supporting Lebanon’s Shia group Hezbollah. All assets belonging to the association has been frozen. Al-Qard Al-Hassan Association although registered as a charity, operates like a bank with dozens of branches and even ATMs.