Mikati: I urged Kordahi to prioritize Lebanon’s interest in Gulf crisis to no avail

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Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Monday he urged information minister George Kordahi to prioritize national interest amid the crisis with Gulf but he did not heed his call.

Mikati said: “We face a downhill slope and if we do not avoid it, we will end up where no one wants us to,” Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV cited him as saying.

The PM added that he urged Kordahi to “prioritize his patriotic sense above all else” to resolve the current diplomatic row with the Gulf, but Kordahi did not heed his request.

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Kordahi sparked a diplomatic crisis with Gulf countries because of his comments on Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s involvement in the Yemen war. He said the Iran-backed Houthis were “defending themselves… against foreign aggression [by the Arab Coalition]” during an interview aired on August 5.

Kordahi said on Sunday resigning was “out of the question”, insisting that his comments were his personal views made before he became a cabinet member.

Saudi Arabia expelled Lebanon’s envoy from the country and banned all Lebanese imports. Bahrain and Kuwait followed suit, and the UAE withdrew its diplomats from Beirut and banned its citizens from traveling to Lebanon.

Mikati has tried to contain diplomatic fallout early on by rejecting Kordahi’s comments and stressing that they had nothing to do with the government’s policy.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Al Arabiya on Sunday that the crisis was bigger than Kordahi’s statements, and that the main crisis is the growing Hezbollah influence in Lebanon’s politics.

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