Lebanon minister to resign to ease crisis with Gulf

By: AFP      Published: 03:02 PM, 3 Dec, 2021
Lebanon minister to resign to ease crisis with Gulf
File photo.

The Lebanese minister whose comments on Yemen sparked a row with Gulf countries that has crippled the government for weeks said he would resign Friday to "give Lebanon a chance".

"I will resign this afternoon," Information Minister George Kordahi told AFP. "I do not want to cling to this position, if it can be useful, I want to give Lebanon a chance."

His resignation has been on the table for weeks and is expected to help unlock a political and diplomatic crisis that has crippled Lebanon's fledgling cabinet since October.

An official at the presidency confirmed to AFP that President Michel Aoun had received a call from Kordahi confirming he would submit his resignation.

The expected breakthrough coincided with a visit to the Gulf by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has spearheaded international efforts to help Lebanon out of its worst-ever economic crisis.

Macron started his two-day tour in Abu Dhabi but was also due to visit Qatar, which Michel Aoun also visited recently, and Saudi Arabia.

Kordahi told AFP he hoped his resignation, combined with Macron's visit to the Gulf, would help break the political deadlock.

"It's a Saudi demand, and now with Emmanuel Macron's visit, the time has come," he said.

A high-ranking official speaking on condition of anonymity said the resignation, which Kordahi had initially ruled out, became inevitable earlier this week when he met Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

"Macron told Mikati before visiting the Gulf: 'If you want me to talk about Lebanon when I'm there, you've got to give me something'," the official said.

"He didn't say what but Mikati understood," the source told AFP.

Kordahi criticised the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen during an interview which was recorded before he became minister but was aired on Lebanese TV after he joined the cabinet.

His remarks angered Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which responded by recalling their ambassadors from Beirut.

The move was a blow to Lebanon, whose government was only formed in September after a 13-month deadlock and was expected to undertake major reforms to rescue the country from a devastating economic crisis.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.