UAE, Bahrain summon the Lebanese Ambassadors in protest against the statements of the Minister of Information
Shafaq News/ The UAE and Bahraini foreign ministries summoned the Lebanese ambassadors. They handed them two letters of protest against the statements of the Lebanese Minister of Information, George Kordahi.
The Emirates News Agency stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) expressed its "strong condemnation and disapproval of these disgraceful and biased statements made by George Kordahi, the Lebanese Minister of Information, which offended the countries of the Coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen."
In turn, the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed, in a protest note, the Kingdom's "strong condemnation of the statements made by the Lebanese Minister of Information towards Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates," according to the official Bahrain News Agency.
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry's statement described Kordahi's statements as "irresponsible, violating diplomatic norms, and representing an intentional insult to the coalition's countries to support legitimacy in Yemen, and ignoring the principles and values of fraternal relations among Arab countries."
Earlier, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Lebanese Ambassador in protest against statements of the Lebanese Minister of Information, George Kordahi.
In a statement, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said that it had handed the Lebanese Ambassador to Riyadh, Fawzi Kabbara, an official protest note against Kordahi 's comments, which it described as "offensive to the efforts of the Arab Coalition in Yemen."
The Saudi Ministry expressed the Kingdom's regret over the "abuses towards Saudi Arabia and the Coalition countries," holding Kordahi responsible for clearly being biased toward the Yemeni "Ansar Allah" (Houthis) group, which "threatens the security and stability of the region."
The Lebanese government sought to avert diplomatic fallout from comments made by the information minister before he took office that were critical of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, saying the remarks were his opinion and not policy.
In comments to an online show affiliated with Qatar's Al Jazeera network, George Kordahi, now information minister, said Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis were defending themselves and called the war "futile."
The interview, which Kordahi said was recorded on Aug. 5, has been widely circulated on social media since Tuesday.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the interview was recorded more than a month before his cabinet was formed and reflected a personal opinion that had nothing to do with the government. Lebanon, he added, was eager for the best relations with Arab states.
The Gulf Cooperation Council's secretary-general slammed Kordahi's comments, saying they reflected little understanding and superficial reading of events.
GCC member Kuwait summoned Lebanon's charge d'affaires in protest. The Yemeni foreign ministry called on Beirut to clarify its position on the comments, according to a statement issued by its embassy in Beirut that Lebanon's National News Agency reported.
Relations between Lebanon and Gulf Arab states have been strained because of the influence wielded in Beirut by the Iran-backed Shi'ite group Hezbollah.
Beirut has adopted a policy of staying out of regional conflicts even as Hezbollah has deployed fighters to Syria. In addition, the Saudi-led coalition says Hezbollah has sent fighters to Yemen.
Kordahi said on Wednesday his remarks were personal views made before he was a minister and that he was committed to government policy. "I am against Arab-Arab wars ... accusing me of hostility to Saudi Arabia is rejected."
He said he would not resign.
When asked during the show about drone attacks, which the Houthis have launched repeatedly into Saudi Arabia along with missiles, he answered: "Yes, but see also the damage that is being done to them as a nation ... they are being bombed by planes".
The Saudi-led coalition does not intentionally target civilians in Yemen, where airstrikes have killed civilians at hospitals, schools, and markets during the nearly seven-year war.