Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has blamed his country’s row with Lebanon on Hizbullah and Iran’s “dominance” over Lebanese politics.
“There is no crisis with Lebanon but a crisis in Lebanon because of Iranian dominance,” he told Al-Arabiya television, adding: “Hizbullah’s dominance of the political system in Lebanon worries us.”
The kingdom, which wields strong influence over many of the smaller Gulf states, has stepped back from its former ally Lebanon in recent years, angered by the influence of Hizbullah.
Qatar — which in January this year repaired a rift of its own with Saudi Arabia — and fellow GCC member Oman meanwhile urged restraint and dialogue between Lebanon and the Gulf countries.
“The (Qatari) foreign ministry calls on the Lebanese government to take the necessary measures… urgently and decisively, to calm the situation and to mend the rift,” it said.
Oman said all parties should strive “to work to avoid an escalation, and address differences through dialogue.”
The row has been sparked by a Lebanese minister’s criticism of the Riyadh-led military intervention in Yemen. It has seen Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain expel Lebanese envoys and recall their own ambassadors. The UAE has meanwhile withdrawn its diplomats from Beirut while Riyadh has also banned all Lebanese imports.
In his remarks — recorded in August before becoming minister but aired on Monday — Information Minister George Kordahi called Yemen’s seven-year war “futile” and said it was “time for it to end.”
He said Yemen’s Huthi rebels were “defending themselves… against an external aggression,” adding that “homes, villages, funerals and weddings were being bombed” by the Saudi-led coalition. The Huthis are backed by Saudi arch-rival Iran, which has significant influence in Lebanon, where it backs the powerful Hizbullah.