Lebanon’s minister of Information resigned ahead of France’s visit to Saudi Arabia hoping this would help solve diplomatic tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
George Kordahi, Lebanon’s minister of Information, resigned on December 3. He said he hoped his decision would help the relations with Saudi Arabia ahead of France’s visit to the Kingdom on Saturday.
George Kordahi was nominated as minister of Information last September but some of his comments had created stiff diplomatic tensions with Saudi Arabia and several other Arab countries.
At the end of October, Saudi Arabia cancelled all imports from Lebanon while Riyadh is the largest client of Lebanon. Bahrain did the same.
George Kordahi is a former and well-known TV figure in Lebanon. He was notably the host of an Arab-version of “Who wants to become a millionaire?”.
Comments about Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen
But an online video on Al-Jazeera recorded in August before he took office recently resurfaced. He considered that the war in Yemen led by Saudi military forces had become absurd and had to stop.
The Lebanese minister rejected any “accusations of enmity towards Saudi Arabia” and explained he expressed personal thoughts. But that didn’t smooth the relations with Saudi Arabia.
In reaction to the comments, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait called their ambassadors back. On October 29, Bahrain asked the Lebanon ambassador to leave the country after “a series of unacceptable and offensive statements issued by Lebanese officials in recent times” and urged its citizens to leave Lebanon few days later.
All of these Gulf countries consider Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. It turns out that the Shi’ite Lebanese political party and Iran support the Houthi movement, the insurrection that ousted the Yemenite president in 2015. Those events led to the military strikes by Sunni Muslim states under Saudi Arabia’s leadership against the Houthi movement in Yemen.
Resignation to help relations with Saudi Arabia ahead of French president visit
The minister’s resignation comes at a time when French president Emmanuel Macron visits the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on December 3 and 4.
France is a close partner of Lebanon and the U.A.E. It is one of the only countries to have a permanent military basis in Dubai.
On Twitter, the French presidency declared the three priorities discussed during his visits in the Middle East would be the “regional stability, fight against radical Islam, and promotion of French attractive [business sector]“. Emmanuel Macron further added that we “act to solve crises creating instability, terrorism and suffering” because “part of our security is played out in the Middle East“.
French president came with several ministers and about 50 business executives. On Friday, the U.A.E. bought 80 Rafale fighter jets. It accounts for the largest export deal signed for the French’s military aircraft, which took about 12 years to conclude. The U.A.E. also bought 12 Caracal military helicopters.
And as the French delegation moves to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the Lebanese Information minister said on Friday he resigned to open the doors for talk between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia ahead of the French presidential visit.