BEIRUT — Saudi Arabia ordered the Lebanese ambassador to leave within 48 hours on Friday and banned all Lebanese imports in response to critical comments made by a Lebanese minister about the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.
The diplomatic rupture throws Lebanon’s cabinet into further crisis as it tries to rally Arab support for its ailing economy, reported CNBC.
Saudi Arabia also recalled its ambassador to Lebanon for consultations, the Saudi state news agency SPA reported.
Riyadh’s decision comes days after an interview with Information Minister George Kordahi was aired by an online show affiliated with Qatar’s al Jazeera network.
Kordahi, in comments made on Aug. 5, called the war futile, said Yemen was subjected to an aggression and that its Iran-aligned Houthis were defending themselves.
The dispute is the latest challenge to Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet, which is already in political paralysis over a row around the Beirut port blast probe.
The rift risks widening to more Gulf states as Bahrain also asked Lebanon’s ambassador to leave shortly after the Saudi decision.
Mikati, in a phone call with Kordahi on Friday evening, asked him to put the national interest first and “take the right decision to fix Arab relations with Lebanon,” a statement by his office said.
Sources with knowledge of the matter had told Reuters the Saudi escalation was piling pressure on Kordahi to resign to avert further consequences.