| 30 November 2021, Tuesday |

A “remarkable” Saudi statement, there is no purpose in engaging Lebanon at this time

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister stated that the kingdom does not intend to engage with the Lebanese government at this time, reiterating a call on the political class to end the “domination” of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.

Lebanon is in the midst of its most serious diplomatic crisis with the Gulf states, sparked by a minister’s critical remarks about the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, which prompted Riyadh to expel Lebanon’s ambassador, recall its own envoy, and ban all imports from Lebanon.

“At this point in time, we see no useful purpose in engaging with the Lebanese government,” Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud told France 24 television in an interview aired on Saturday.

“We believe that the political class must step up and take the necessary actions to liberate Lebanon from Hezbollah’s dominance, and through Hezbollah, Iran.”

Saudi Arabia was enraged by an interview in which Lebanon’s newly appointed information minister, George Kordahi, appeared to support Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis and claimed that the country was being attacked from outside.

Kordahi claimed the interview was taped before he became a minister and has refused to apologize or resign.

Last week, Hezbollah’s leader called Riyadh’s reaction to comments by information minister George Kordahi “exaggerated,” accusing Saudi Arabia of attempting to foment civil war in Lebanon. more info

Riyadh, long at odds with Iran for regional influence, has stated that its actions were motivated not only by Kordahi’s comments prior to cabinet formation, but also by its opposition to Hezbollah’s growing clout in Lebanese politics.

Gulf states were traditional aid donors to Lebanon, but fearful of Hezbollah’s growing power, they have been hesitant to assist in rescuing Lebanon from a devastating economic crisis rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement.