Hezbollah accuses Saudis of overreacting in Kordahi row

Hezbollah accuses Saudi Arabia of overreacting following remarks by a Lebanese minister about war in Yemen
2 min read
11 November, 2021
Hezbollah has accused Saudi Arabia of having an 'exaggerated and incomprehensible' reaction to comments made by Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi over the Saudi intervention in Yemen.
The diplomatic rift between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia prompted Saudi Arabia and some of its allies to recall ambassadors and block imports [source: Getty]

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday slammed Saudi's "exaggerated" response to remarks made by a Lebanese minister on the Yemen war that sparked a damaging diplomatic row with Gulf Arab states.

In his first public comments since the crisis erupted, the leader of the pro-Iran movement accused the Kingdom of "deliberately" sparking the standoff "as part of its battle" with Hezbollah.

The dispute was triggered by comments made by Hezbollah-backed Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi in an interview taped in August - before he took office - and broadcast in late October.

Kordahi characterised the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen since 2015 as an "external aggression", sparking rebukes from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The diplomatic rift, which threatens to plunge Lebanon deeper into economic meltdown, prompted Saudi Arabia and some of its allies to recall ambassadors and block imports from Lebanon.

The country is in urgent need of international aid, particularly from its wealthy Arab neighbours, to lift it out of the financial and political quagmire.

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"The Saudi reaction to Kordahi's statement is very, very exaggerated and incomprehensible," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

"Kordahi was calm and objective. He did not attack anyone and did not use harsh expressions."

The Gulf backlash to Kordahi's statement has fuelled calls at home and abroad for his resignation, but Nasrallah said his movement opposes such a move.

"Does it serve [the] national interest to succumb to orders from foreign countries?" he asked.

The Saudi foreign minister said earlier this month that Hezbollah's dominance over Lebanon, and not just Kordahi's comments, prompted the diplomatic row.

Nasrallah hit back on Thursday, saying that the "crisis that Saudi Arabia has deliberately created... is part of its battle with the Resistance (Hezbollah) in Lebanon".

"We do not deny that we are an influential power... but we don't control the country," he added.

He also said that Hezbollah - which Saudi Arabia considers a "terrorist" movement backed by its regional rival Iran - does not seek an escalation with Gulf Arab states.

"We do not want to head into a battle with Saudi Arabia and Gulf states," he said.