Conflict Trends Update

LEBANON

A diplomatic spat erupted with Gulf states after footage emerged of Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi criticising the Saudi-led war in Yemen before his ministerial appointment. In response, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates expelled Lebanese ambassadors from their countries and recalled their own ambassadors, while Riyadh and Bahrain also banned all Lebanese imports. Crisis Group expert Heiko Wimmen says the newly formed government was already impaired by a lack of Gulf support, but more direct and hostile policies will further sap the cabinet’s cohesion and credibility. The crisis, which follows deadly sectarian clashes in Beirut earlier this month, could also become another sticking point between the Sunni and Shiite political camps, with Prime Minister Mikati and other Sunni politicians seeking to keep Gulf partners on side while Hizbollah throws its weight behind Kordahi.

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