Saudi Arabia’s Latest Pressure Campaign on Lebanon Could Backfire

Saudi Arabia’s Latest Pressure Campaign on Lebanon Could Backfire
Lebanese protesters hold Saudi Arabian flags in a display of support for the kingdom, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 30, 2021 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

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Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Lebanon and ordered a halt to Lebanese imports over the weekend, in another sign of escalating tensions between Riyadh and Beirut. The diplomatic standoff represents a major blow for Lebanon’s struggling economy, amid the political impasse and economic hardships faced by Lebanon’s citizens. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait have all followed suit, withdrawing their envoys from Beirut and announcing a similar ban on Lebanese imports. 

The row was ostensibly triggered by comments made by Lebanon’s new information minister, George Kordahi, a Hezbollah-aligned appointee who criticized the Saudi-led war in Yemen in an appearance on a television show. The comments—which were recorded in August, before Kordahi was appointed—seem to be an excuse to raise the stakes in Riyadh’s long-running struggle for power and influence in Lebanon. 

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