Monday, August 15, 2022

Saudi Arabia sending its ambassador back to Lebanon after controversy

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ( Associated Press) – Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday that it would send its ambassador back to Lebanon after a diplomatic dispute last year.

The kingdom-run Saudi Press Agency reported that the kingdom made the decision following “calls and appeals from liberal national political forces in Lebanon”. The kingdom also said that Lebanon has agreed to stop all political, military and security activities affecting it and other Gulf Arab countries.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati welcomed the Saudi decision. “We confirm that Lebanon is proud of its Arab affiliation and want the best of relations with the Gulf countries, which were and will remain our support,” Mikati wrote on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador in 2021 after Lebanon’s information minister described the war in Yemen as aggression by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Saudi-led coalition has been battling Yemen’s Houthi rebels since March 2015.

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The row was one of the worst rifts between the Gulf Arab states and Lebanon in years. Relations have been strained over growing Iranian influence in the small nation, where Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a powerful ally.

Last December, the President of France and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia had a joint phone call with the Lebanese prime minister during Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to try to defuse tensions between Beirut and Riyadh.

But in January, the leader of Lebanese Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, accused Riyadh of helping spread extremist Islamic ideology around the world and “taking hostage” thousands of Lebanese working in the oil-rich Persian Gulf region. Answered.

Lebanon is grappling with an economic crisis that began in October 2019, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement. The meltdown has left three-quarters of the small Mediterranean country’s population of 6 million people in poverty, including 1 million Syrian refugees.

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The Saudi announcement comes in the midst of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and as the kingdom appears to be resuming its diplomatic approach to the wider Middle East.

Already, Turkey has dropped a trial targeting those who killed Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi – disbanded at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 – as it seeks economic ties with the kingdom.

Meanwhile, the kingdom has also hosted talks with Yemeni government officials and pro-government factions this month, which saw the country’s exiled president end the Saudi-led coalition’s long war with Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Thursday. The President handed over power to the Council in the hope of ending it.

The Iran-backed Houthis refused to join the talks because they took place in Saudi Arabia, their adversary in the conflict.

Nation World News Desk
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