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Kuwait, UAE become latest Gulf states to withdraw diplomats from Lebanon

Lebanon's Information Minister George Kordahi said in a television interview Yemen's Houthis are only defending themselves from external aggression in the form of the Saudi-led coalition causing a diplomatic row

Kuwait and the UAE have become the latest Gulf states to recall their ambassadors from Beirut, following the lead of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain over a diplomatic row provoked by a Lebanese minister's criticism of Riyadh's on-going military intervention in Yemen.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia expelled the Lebanese ambassador who was ordered to leave within 48 hours and recalled its own envoy to Beirut, Waleed Bukhari. Riyadh also banned all imports from Lebanon, which will add further pressure on the already crisis-hit country and its deteriorating economy.

Footage from August, aired this week showed Lebanon's Information Minister George Kordahi, who was appointed to the position at the time, describing the war against Yemen as one of aggression by the Saudi-led coalition, branding the conflict as "futile" and said the Houthis were acting in "self-defence."

The Lebanese government has distanced itself from Kordashi's comments, although Mohammad Raad the head of the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, the political wing of Hezbollah accused the Saudis of seeking revenge over their failing war effort in Yemen.

READ: UAE summons Lebanon envoy over minister's Yemen remarks

"Today, we are facing a crisis created by one of the regional countries that launched a cruel war against another Arab country and lost it," he was quoted as saying by Lebanon's Al-Ahed news website.

"The country that lost the war now intends to avenge its defeat against Lebanon since Lebanon stood by the oppressed nation that has been under invasion for eight years and whose country has been destroyed amid attempts by some parties to make it surrender."

Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE have followed Riyadh in solidarity, however fellow Gulf nations, Oman and Qatar have both called for restraint, while the Arab League urged the Gulf countries "to reflect on the measures proposed to be taken… in order to avoid further negative effects on the collapsing Lebanese economy."

In a show of support, officials in the Houthi-led government in Sanaa have called for banning imports from Saudi Arabia in response to the kingdom's move against Lebanon. The spokesman for the Houthi movement, Mohammad Abdulsalam meanwhile, in a message to the Lebanese people said "Do not be intimidated by what the Saudi regime is doing"

READ: Saudi Arabia classifies Lebanese association as terrorist entity for links to Hezbollah

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