Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait have summoned Lebanon’s envoys to their countries after Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi called for an end to the Riyadh-led aggression on Yemen.
The Saudi foreign ministry said in a tweet on Wednesday that it summoned the Lebanese ambassador to protest over the “offensive” remarks made by Kordahi regarding the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen.
It said it was disappointed by the “insults contained in those statements directed at the Kingdom and countries part of the Arab coalition”.
Kordahi said in an interview with an online show affiliated with Qatar’s Al Jazeera network that the Yemen war was “futile” and said it was time for the war to end.
He also defended Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah resistance movement, saying the Houthis are “defending themselves… against an external aggression,” adding that “homes, villages, funerals and weddings were being bombed” by the coalition.
The interview was recorded on August 5 before Kordahi was appointed as minister, but it aired on Monday.
Shortly after the Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates — a member of the coalition — also condemned Kordahi’s statements and said it too called in the Lebanese ambassador.
Bahrain and Kuwait also summoned their respective envoys to Lebanon to protest Kordahi’s comments.
Saudi Arabia and some of its regional allies, backed by the US and other Western powers, have been waging a devastating war on Yemen beginning in March 2015 to reinstall Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and crush the popular Ansarullah movement.
The Saudi war, which Riyadh had claimed would last only a few weeks, but is still ongoing, has failed to achieve its goals, but pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation and famine, killed tens of thousands of innocent people, and destroyed the impoverished state’s infrastructure.
The United Nations has described the war on Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
After the summons, Kordahi said that his comments were personal views made before he was a minister. He also stated that he was committed to government policy.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kordahi had said he would not resign.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, the Lebanese minister had said his call for an end to the “futile war” was out of conviction, and expressed hope that his remarks and the ensuing controversy would lead to an end to “this harmful war.”
Yemen’s Information Minister Dhaifullah al-Shami hailed Kordahi’s remarks, noting that they “do not include an offense to any country as some try to portray them,” stressing “the importance of respecting freedom of opinion and expression.”