MANAMA: Bahrain on Tuesday urged its citizens in Lebanon to immediately leave the country amid a row between Beirut and Arab Gulf states over a Lebanese minister’s remarks on the Yemen war.
The foreign ministry “urged all citizens in Lebanon to leave immediately, following the tense situation there, which calls for extra caution,” it said in a statement carried by the official Bahrain News Agency.
The call came a day after the United Arab Emirates also urged its citizens to leave Lebanon.
Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi triggered the row with an interview recorded in August and aired last week in which he said that Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels were “defending themselves… against an external aggression.”
A Saudi-led military coalition that has included the UAE and Bahrain intervened to prop up the Yemeni government in 2015, after Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.
Saudi Arabia on Friday gave Lebanon’s ambassador 48 hours to leave the country, recalled its envoy from Beirut and suspended all imports from Lebanon.
Bahrain and Kuwait quickly followed suit with similar measures, and the UAE on Saturday recalled its diplomats from Beirut in “solidarity” with Riyadh.
The Saudi foreign ministry said its moves were taken after the “insulting” remarks on the Yemen war, but also due to the influence of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah.
Saudi Arabia, which suspended all imports from Lebanon, has said dealing with Beirut was “pointless” due to Hezbollah’s dominance.
Meanwhile, Kordahi has said that resigning was “out of the question.”
Lebanon on Monday called for talks with Saudi Arabia to ease the row, which is a fresh blow amid its deep economic crisis and while Beirut’s fragile government is struggling to secure aid, including from wealthy Arab countries.