Lebanese Berri meets GCC envoys signaling end of rift – Doha News

Unlike the rest of the region, Qatar has not recalled its ambassador to Lebanon.

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri met with Qatar’s Ambassador to Beirut as well as other GCC envoys in the country as it aims to strengthen ties with countries in the region.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar (MOFA), Berri and Qatar’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al Sahlawi discussed bilateral relations between the two countries.

The Lebanese official also met with Saudi envoy Walid Al-Bukhari and Kuwaiti ambassador to Lebanon Abdel-Al Al-Qena’i.

The meetings mark the resumption of ties between Lebanon and the Gulf countries after last year’s dispute. The rift was sparked by remarks made by former Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi.

The comments were made about the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in Yemen, which Kordahi described as “futile”.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen withdrew their ambassadors from the country shortly after statements by the former Lebanese official, who resigned in December.

Unlike the rest of the region, Qatar has not recalled its ambassador to Lebanon.

The Gulf State then denounced Kordahi’s remarks and called on the Lebanese government “to urgently take the necessary measures” to deal with the situation.

On April 7, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen announced the return of their ambassadors to Lebanon.

Riyadh News Agency (SPA) said the Kingdom’s decision was “a response” to the “commitment” of Beirut Prime Minister Najib Mikati and “moderate Lebanese political forces to stop” all political activities, military and security forces” affecting Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC.

“[Saudi Arabia] emphasizes the importance of the return of the Lebanese Republic to its Arab depth, represented by its national institutions and agencies, for Lebanon to prevail in peace and security,” SPA added.

The Kuwaiti ambassador said the latest meeting is “irrefutable proof that the Kuwaiti initiative has succeeded”.

“The Speaker of the House stressed that the Kuwaiti initiative has diligently led to the restoration of relations; this initiative will be a starting point to further strengthen ties between our brotherly countries,” Al-Qena’i said.

Speaking to reporters last month in Qatar on the sidelines of the Doha Forum, Mikati described the rift as “a summer cloud that has passed”.

The divide has contributed to the deterioration of Lebanon’s economic situation, given its heavy dependence on foreign donors, including the Gulf region.

Ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have weakened over the years due to the growing influence of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement in the country.

Lebanon has become an arena of rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh has backed some Sunni and Maronite groups while Tehran backs the Shiite Hezbollah movement.

The foreign intervention took place in 2017 when then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri was summoned to Saudi Arabia and reportedly forced to resign. Hariri also ended his political career in January this year.

Lebanon itself is made up of several social segments, including Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Druze, Maronites, and other sects of Christianity.

Various segments engaged in a bloody civil war in 1975, which lasted 15 years. To this day, Lebanon continues to struggle with the impact of the war which has aggravated sectarianism in the country.

Lebanon’s economic crisis is now the worst since the end of the civil war in 1990. The Lebanese lira has lost 90% of its value to the US dollar since 2019.

The population does not have access to their savings in local banks and struggles to meet their daily needs.

The World Bank has described the situation in Lebanon as one of the worst financial crises of modern times.

Over the past few months, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has held talks with the Lebanese government on a financial recovery plan. On April 7, the organization said it had reached a draft funding agreement with Lebanon.

The IMF noted that Beirut must carry out economic reforms in order to approve the plan.

In December last year, France and Saudi Arabia agreed to set up an aid mechanism that would help the country cope with its multiple crises.

Qatar has also offered to step in to help resolve the Lebanese crisis once it forms a government.

Legislative elections are scheduled for May 15, the first since the 2019 revolution.

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