Beirut, Lebanon – Saudi Arabia has banned all imports from Lebanon and given the Lebanese ambassador 48 hours to leave the kingdom after footage emerged earlier this week of a minister criticising the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s war in Yemen, state news agency SPA reported.
Saudi Arabia also banned its citizens from travelling to Lebanon and recalled its ambassador.
“The Kingdom’s government regrets the outcomes of the relations with the Lebanese Republic due to the Lebanese authorities ignoring facts, and their continued failure to take corrective measures,” the statement carried by SPA on Friday read.
Hours later, the Kingdom of Bahrain ordered the Lebanese ambassador to leave the country within two days for the same reason, Bahrain’s foreign ministry said.
Ties between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were already strained, but they soured further on Tuesday after footage began circulating online of Information Minister George Kordahi making critical remarks about the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. He said the televised interview was recorded more than a month before he was appointed minister.
Kordahi said the Iran-aligned Houthis are “defending themselves … against an external aggression”.
The former celebrity TV presenter also said the long-running war was “futile” and called for it to end, which offended the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces.
The game show host-turned-minister said his comments were a personal opinion and were made before he joined the government, but said he refuses to be blackmailed by any entity.