BEIRUT (Dispatches) -- Hezbollah head Sayyaed Hassan Nasrallah has blasted Saudi Arabia for trying to stir instability in Lebanon amid a weeks-long diplomatic dispute between the latter and several Persian Gulf countries.
In a televised speech on Thursday, Nasrallah hit out at Saudi Arabia for violating Lebanese sovereignty and dismissed calls for the departure of embattled Information Minister George Kordahi.
“Hezbollah supports the information minister’s position of not resigning,” Nasrallah said, adding that he also opposed the idea of Kordahi being sacked from his position. “Rejecting external dictates is one of the simplest manifestations of sovereignty.”
The diplomatic crisis was sparked last month after video footage circulated online from an August interview in which Kordahi made critical remarks about the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
The minister said the Yemenis are “defending themselves … against an external aggression”, earning praise from people in the region including Yemenis.
In response, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain recalled their envoys from Beirut and expelled their Lebanese ambassadors.
Saudi Arabia also banned all imports from Lebanon, accusing it of failing to take measures to “stop the export of the scourge of drugs”. Bahrain and the UAE have called on their citizens to leave the country.
Nasrallah said Saudi Arabia is trying to destabilize cash-strapped Lebanon and spark a civil war through their allies and “serve American and Israeli interests”.
“They have a problem with their allies because they want them to fight Hezbollah and wage a civil war in Lebanon,” Nasrallah said. “And in Lebanon, they either do not want a civil war or they are unable to take on one.”
He also dismissed Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s remarks that Hezbollah has hegemony over Lebanon as “nonsense”.
“Others have more influence than us in the state, in the judiciary, the army, the security forces, and administrations,” Nasrallah said, noting that Hezbollah has been unable to remove Beirut port explosion investigator Judge Tarek Bitar, have Iranian fuel tankers dock directly in Lebanon, or fully restore ties with the Syrian government.
Kordahi was appointed by the Marada Movement, a Christian party.
Many Yemenis have welcomed Kordahi’s
comments, believing it draws attention to the six-year-old conflict’s futility. Many of those Yemenis are not even supporters of the popular movement the coalition is battling.
In Sanaa, the Ansarullah-held capital, images of a sharp-suited Kordahi have been stuck up on billboards across the city. Riyadh Street has now been renamed Kordahi Street.
“Kordahi spoke in the tongue of Yemenis and was brave enough to say the truth that no other Arab official dared to do,” Qadri Abdullah, a Sanaa resident, told Middle East Eye last week.
“He knows that this statement may affect the relationship of his country with the aggression [Persian Gulf countries] but he preferred to support the victims of this war in Yemen. A big thank you to him.”
Kordahi’s criticism, Abdullah said, meant a lot for Yemenis who every day are dying under Saudi-led airstrikes and as a result of the kingdom’s blockade on their country. The United Nations estimates that the war has caused 233,000 deaths.
“I can see there is a campaign against Kordahi by the mercenaries of Saudi Arabia but also of his statement appeared from different areas, as Yemenis are fed up of the war.”
Naming a street after the embattled minister is the least Yemenis can do to express their gratitude, he said.
“Personally, I don’t want a street in my country named after Riyadh, because Saudi Arabia hasn’t done anything good for Yemen deserving of thanks. But Kordhai has.”