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Arab states send Kuwaiti FM to Beirut to mend ties after Kordahi outrage

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)
Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser al-Mohammad Al Sabah gestures as he speaks after meeting with Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut, Lebanon, on January 22, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Kuwait’s foreign minister has visited Lebanon in the first such trip by a senior Persian Gulf Arab official since the breakout of a diplomatic rift pitting the Saudi regime and its allies against Lebanon over Beirut’s criticism of the Riyadh-led war on Yemen.

“This visit is one of various international efforts to restore trust with Lebanon,” Sheikh Ahmad Nasser al-Mohammed Al Sabah said after talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the start of a two-day trip Saturday.

“We are now taking steps towards building trust … which doesn’t happen overnight,” Sabah told reporters.

He also called on Lebanese authorities to take “practical and concrete measures” that could bolster ties.

The Kuwaiti foreign minister said his visit was also to show solidarity with the Lebanese people, and that the move had been coordinated with other Persian Gulf countries.

In October last year, Lebanon’s Information Minister George Kordahi angered Riyadh and its Persian Gulf allies by describing the Saudi-led war on Yemen as “futile” in an online show affiliated with Qatar’s Al Jazeera, adding that the Yemeni armed forces are successfully defending the state.

Saudi officials immediately responded by recalling the kingdom's ambassador from Beirut and banning all Lebanese imports. The response was supported by Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

As Saudi pressure built on his country, Kordahi eventually announced his resignation in December 2021 and said he had decided to put Lebanon’s national interests above “personal” preferences.

Kordahi, a popular former Lebanese game show host, had made the critical remarks before being appointed as the information minister. 

Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.

The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases there.

Despite heavily-armed Saudi Arabia’s continuous bombardment of the impoverished country, Yemeni armed forces and the Popular Committees have grown steadily in strength against the Saudi-led invaders and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.

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