The Gulf states are outraged by what the Lebanese media minister said about the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have called on Lebanon’s ambassadors to stage protests against Information Minister George Kordahi condemning the Riyadh-led militant-led militant group in Yemen.
Kordahi said in a statement Monday that Houthi-backed Houthi rebels are “protecting themselves … from foreign violence”, adding that “houses, villages, funerals and weddings are being blown up” by the coalition.
He also called the seven-year war in Yemen “insignificant” and said it was “time to end”.
The civil war in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led troops to intervene to support the government the following year.
Thousands of people – mostly civilians – have died and millions have been displaced, which the United Nations says is the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that it had given the ambassador a reminder against what Kordahi said was “offensive”.
It also lamented the “insulting” words, saying it “favors Houthi terrorists who threaten the security and stability of the region”.
Recently, the United Arab Emirates – a member of the alliance – denied Kordahi’s allegations and said he had summoned the Lebanese ambassador.
Kordahi’s comments “embarrassing and biased” “angered the member states,” he said in a statement issued by WAM.
The secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council had previously said that Kordahi’s remarks showed little understanding and he was just reading the details.
A member of the GCC Kuwait also summoned Lebanese officials in protest.
On Tuesday, the Lebanese government said Kordahi’s statement “was rejected and did not reflect the state’s position”, adding that the talks took place before Kordahi was elected prime minister in September.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has been hoping to repair relations with Gulf Arab nations that have been plagued by years of pressure from Beirut and the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah.
Lebanon, he added, wants better relations with Arab countries.
Kordahi, a well-known television personality, told local reporters Wednesday that the talks that took place on August 5, before he became a minister and “his thoughts”.
“I have done no wrong to anyone. I did not attack anyone. How can I apologize? ” he said. “I spoke of my love as someone who feels the suffering of the Arabs.”
He said he was determined to abide by the government’s policies and would not resign.
“I oppose the Arab and Arab wars …
Asked about the drone strike, which the Houthis repeatedly launched in Saudi Arabia with artillery, he replied, “Yes, but look at the damage they are doing to the nation … they are being blown up by planes.”
Beirut has taken steps to prevent regional conflicts despite Hezbollah sending troops to Syria. The Saudi-led coalition said Hezbollah had also sent troops to Yemen.
Civil rights groups have strongly condemned the treaty for killing civilians in their air raids.
The Saudi-led coalition says it did not deliberately target civilians in Yemen, where weapons killed civilians in hospitals, schools and markets during the war.