Lebanon is the land of crises in modern era, with one issue erupting on a near-daily basis. Residents face the crippling power outages and gasoline scarcity, and have to wait for hours fill the car tanks and buy bread. The monotony of daily existence has grown intolerable. The question of the struggle between various Lebanese forces is an incessant challenge. Out of this amalgamation of critical issues, what is expecting the people?
This was not the end of a sad story for Lebanon. In a new crisis, Lebanese Minister of Information has unknowingly pulled Beirut into a new problem. George Kordahi, before taking the office as minister, described the Yemen conflict as “futile” in an Aljazeera interview. The show was taped three months ago and Prime Minister Najib Mikati accepted him in his cabinet two months later.
After his assignment, Kordahi requested that the program not be broadcast since he had voiced his own opinions rather than the official viewpoint of the Beirut administration. His plea was turned down, and the show televised nevertheless. Considering that it has sparked a political row, the chronology seems suspicious.
The seemingly angry Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and de-facto ruler, back-lashed against Kordahi’s remark. In any case, it was Mohammad Bin Salman who initiated the joint military assault against Yemen in 2014 in the name of “Operation Decisive Storm.” The Saudi prince said then that the war would take less than a day, with dissident Houthis’ removal and restoration of Mansour Hadi.
The war, however, took long years, with no claim on victory. The blunt remarks by George Kordahi puts the Saudi failure at stake.
Is George Kordahi a Saudi Arabian Strategy?
The course of development didn’t satisfy Riyadh expectations after 7 years. Houthi rockets have struck Saudi capital and towns in the kingdom, prompting the prince to propose a plan to terminate the Yemen conflict. The Houthi movement, finding Riyadh in weak position following Trump removal, have flatly turned down the proposal.
MBS, however, kept attempts towards stability by pleading with certain powerful governments to negotiate a truce and discussions with Iran. Reports indicate that Saudi Arabia and Iran are now on talks table in Iraq for multiple months.
George Kordahi is not the only one to believe that the Yemen conflict is “futile”. Numerous political figures, administrations and experts as well as celebrities, authors, and athletes have expressed similar sentiments. They have called for an immediate stop to the conflict since it has led to a human disaster with blood and violence the status quo.
In that light, we understand that Riyadh’s unproportioned retaliation to Kordahi’s remark must have latent motivations. The wound that infuriated Saudi Arabia and its partners in the bloody war is a pretext to political actions far beyond the issue. Under Saudi leverage, Bahrain, Qatar and UAE have criticized remarks by George Kordahi and reaffirmed backing for the Saudi government.
“It’s important that the government in Lebanon… forges a path forward that frees Lebanon from the current political construct, which reinforces the dominance of Hezbollah,” these words by Saudi foreign minister is clarifying. From the beginning, Riyadh alleged Iran to be behind the controversy through Hezbollah.
Exhausted through the talks with Iran, Saudi Arabia utilized the Lebanon controversy to press Iran outside the negotiation room. The question, as such, is not the ‘futility’ of Yemen war, but its political use as a leverage in the negotiation table.