Beirut: Lebanon's information minister announced his resignation Friday, in a bid to ease an unprecedented diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
George Kordahi said he had quit before the French president visited Riyadh in the hope Emmanuel Macron would help ease the crisis sparked by the Lebanese TV host-turned-politican's critical remarks about Saudi Arabia's role in the Yemen war.
In response, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador and banned all Lebanese imports, which used to bring in about $240 million a year. Kordahi had refused to resign over the comments made before he assumed his Cabinet post, prolonging the crisis. Kordahi had said the war in Yemen was futile and called it an "aggression" by the Saudi-led coalition.
Lebanon is sinking deeper into an economic crisis, the worst in its modern history. The country's financial meltdown, coupled with multiple other crises, has plunged more than three quarters of the nation's population of 6 million, including a million Syrian refugees, into poverty.
The Saudi measures have caused anxiety particularly among the many Lebanese who work in Gulf countries, and added to the country's economic woes. It is not clear whether Kordahi's resignation Friday would placate Saudi Arabia enough to reverse the decisions.
At the root of the crisis is a years-old regional rivalry with Iran, and Saudi unease about the increasing clout of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group. Lebanon has been caught in the middle. Its relations with Saudi Arabia, a traditional backer of the small Mediterranean country, have been steadily worsening over the past years.