Saudi Arabia and Kuwait announced Thursday that they would return their respective ambassadors to Lebanon after being withdrawn late last year due to critical remarks of Riyadh by a former Lebanese minister.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said the move was made in response to appeals from Lebanese politicians and after Prime Minister Najib Mikati said his government was committed to taking the needed measures to enhance ties with Riyadh and the Gulf.
These measures include stopping political, military and security actions impacting Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.
“The Kingdom stresses the importance of the return of Lebanon to its Arab depth, represented by its national institutions and apparatuses, for Lebanon to prevail in peace and security, and for its people to enjoy stability and security in their homeland,” the statement read.
After the Saudi announcement, Mikati said Lebanon appreciated the decision. “We affirm that Lebanon is proud of its Arab belonging and wants the best ties with Gulf countries that always was and will remain supportive,” he said in a tweet.
Mikati’s office later announced that Kuwait had informed Beirut they would return their envoy before the end of the week. The Lebanese premier thanked Kuwait’s foreign minister for his work to restore Lebanese-Gulf relations.
Strained ties with Gulf
Ties between Beirut and its once close backers in the Gulf soured since the outbreak of the Syrian war and Hezbollah’s increased grip on the country and its institutions.
The Iran-backed group openly admitted to sending fighters to Syria to prop up the Assad regime and they have been accused of advising militias in Iraq and Yemen.
Saudi Arabia pulled their ambassador from Beirut, and several other Gulf nations followed suit last year after Lebanon’s information minister George Kordahi voiced support for the Houthis and criticized Saudi Arabia.
After Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s comments after Gulf countries pulled their diplomats last year, Mikati released a rare statement criticizing Hezbollah.
“For God’s sake, have mercy on Lebanon and the Lebanese people and stop [fueling] political and sectarian hatred,” Najib Mikati said in a series of tweets, adding that Nasrallah’s stance was not that of the Lebanese government.