Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri blamed Hezbollah on Friday amid a recent row with Saudi Arabia about the war in Yemen.
“The responsibility, first and foremost, in this regard, lies with Hezbollah, which declares hostility to the Arabs and the Arab Gulf states,” Hariri said in a statement.
His comments came after Saudi Arabia and Bahrain expelled Lebanese envoys for Beirut’s Information Minister George Kordahi’s criticism of the Saudi-led war against armed Houthi rebels.
Kordahi’s comments were made in a televised interview that was said to be recorded before he took his post in the new Cabinet headed by Mikati.
Asked if he "thinks that the Houthis, like Hezbollah, are defending their land as an armed organization," Kordahi responded: "Of course they are defending themselves ... My personal opinion is that this war in Yemen needs to end. Houses, buildings, villages, and cities are being attacked by fighter jets."
A Saudi Foreign Ministry statement carried by the Kingdom’s news agency said Hezbollah damaged Riyadh-Beirut relations and the “terrorist” group influences the decisions of the Lebanese state.
To avert the crisis, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Kordahi made the comment before taking his post and it does not reflect the government's position.
He added that the remarks in no way demonstrate Lebanon's policy with Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia.
Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.
A Saudi-led coalition aimed at reinstating the Yemeni government has worsened the situation and caused one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crises.