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Saudi allies recall diplomats from Lebanon

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo of the Emirati ministry of foreign affairs' building

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait have recalled their diplomats from Lebanon after a same move by Saudi Arabia in protest at a Lebanese minister's faulting the hugely-deadly Riyadh-led war on Yemen.

The latest of the Saudi Arabia allies to take the move was the UAE, whose foreign ministry announced on Monday that all of the Emirates' diplomats and embassy staff had returned "safely" to the country.

The Emirates has even banned its citizens from travelling to Lebanon and called on all of the Emirati nationals, who are present there, to return home.

“The ministry attributed the development to the UAE’s decision to recall its diplomats and administration staff from Lebanon and bar Emirati citizens to travel to the country owing to the current security and political situation there,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Out of the UAE’s determination on ensuring the safety of its citizens abroad, the ministry contacted UAE nationals in Lebanon to coordinate their return back home,” said Khalid Belhoul, the ministry’s undersecretary.

Saudi Arabia on Friday gave Lebanon's ambassador 48 hours to leave the country, recalled its envoy from Beirut, and suspended all imports from Lebanon.

Bahrain and Kuwait quickly followed suit with similar measures.

The row began after George Kordahi, currently Lebanon's information minister, said during a television program, which was aired last Monday, that the 2015-present Saudi Arabia-led war on Yemen was an act of aggression by Riyadh and the UAE, the kingdom’s most significant ally in the military campaign.

He called the war “absurd,” saying it had to stop because he was opposed to wars between Arabs. The minister also said the Yemeni army forces and their allied fighters from the Popular Committees were “defending themselves ... against an external aggression.”

The war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and pushed the entire Yemen close to the brink of outright famine.

Despite Riyadh and its allies' insistence on deepening the diplomatic crisis with Lebanon, Lebanese foreign minister has called for initiation of talks with Saudi Arabia as part of efforts aimed at resolving the ongoing dispute.

“Lebanon invites Saudi Arabia to engage in dialog to solve all outstanding problems and not just the latest spat, so that the same crisis is not repeated every time,” Abdallah Bou Habib said in an interview with AFP on Monday.


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