Lebanon says it wants 'best relations' with Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries

Lebanon says it wants 'best relations' with Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries
Lebanon is trying to reconcile with Saudi Arabia and several Gulf states after they cut diplomatic ties over criticism of their foreign policy.
2 min read
30 November, 2021
Lebanese President Michel Aoun is trying to restore ties with Gulf states [Getty]

Lebanon wants the "best relations" with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, Lebanese President Michel Aoun told Al-Jazeera on Monday.

Lebanon is in the midst of a growing diplomatic rift with several Gulf states aligned with Saudi Arabia in isolating Beirut.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Beirut last month and banned all Lebanese imports, further crippling the Lebanese economy. 

Several Gulf states - including the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain - followed suit, recalling their envoys from Beirut and expelling their Lebanese ambassadors.

Tensions with Saudi Arabia erupted last month after Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi criticised the Saudi-led coalition's war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Kordahi, a member of a minor party allied with Hezbollah, said the Iran-aligned Houthis were "defending themselves… against an external aggression", which many interpreted as referring to Saudi Arabia. 

Beirut has called for dialogue, saying Kordahi's comments do not reflect the Lebanese government's position.

Lebanon is in the midst of a colossal financial crisis and desperately needs the support of regional powers. The Lebanese pound has lost almost 90 percent of its value since late 2019.

The World Bank says the financial crisis could be one of the three most severe the world has witnessed since the mid-19th century.

The rift between Riyadh and Beirut had begun to grow in recent years due to the growing role of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia considers Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, to be a "terrorist" organisation.