BEIRUT — Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser al-Mohammad Al-Sabah told Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Sunday that his country will spare no effort to support Lebanon in crisis.
The positive remarks, which follow a serious diplomatic row between Beirut and the Gulf monarchies that lasted five months, were made during a phone call between the two officials, two days after the return of the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to Lebanon.
“The Gulf countries hope for the stability of brotherly Lebanon, as well as its security and renewed health,” the Kuwaiti minister told Mikati, the state-run National News Agency reported. “The ties between Kuwait and Lebanon are very strong and are getting stronger with each passing day ... Kuwait will spare no effort to support Lebanon and help it recover,” the official said.
Al-Sabah said that “Prime Minister Mikati’s determination to restore the ties between Lebanon and the Gulf countries, as well as his continuous efforts in this regard, are appreciated and prove his faith in Lebanon’s Arab roots.”
For his part, Mikati thanked Kuwait’s emir and his government for their “continuous support to Lebanon and their efforts to restore relations with the Gulf countries,” adding, “These efforts are appreciated by all Lebanese and will forever constitute a glorious stage in Lebanese-Kuwaiti relations.”
On Friday afternoon, the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Walid Bukhari, returned to Beirut, a few hours after the Kuwaiti ambassador Abdel Aal al-Kinai. The day before, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the return of its ambassador to Beirut “in response to calls from moderate political forces in Lebanon, and the commitment of the Lebanese government to take the necessary steps to stop all activities ... damaging to the kingdom.”
Riyadh had recalled its ambassador to Lebanon on Oct. 29 after statements by the then Lebanese Information Minister George Kurdahi, made before he took office and criticizing the intervention of the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and decided to “stop all Lebanese imports.” It was followed by the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain, which withdrew their diplomats in “solidarity.”
Relations between Beirut and the Gulf Arab states have become strained in recent years due to the perceived growing influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah. The Gulf countries have reproached Beirut for its lack of firmness towards Hezbollah, which is accused of supporting the Houthi rebels they have fought in Yemen since 2014. Both the Houthis and Hezbollah are supported by Iran, Saudi Arabia's rival.
The crisis with the Gulf monarchies was a blow to Lebanon, whose new government was formed in September after a 13-month political stalemate.
Kuwait's foreign minister, who visited Lebanon in January, sent the Lebanese authorities an Arab roadmap to help Lebanon re-establish its ties with the Gulf countries. This document includes among its requests the disarmament of Hezbollah, a highly sensitive issue that divides the political class in Lebanon. Beirut subsequently communicated to the parties concerned its response to these requests, expressing its reservations about the clause concerning Hezbollah’s disarmament.
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour.