Sanaa: Yemen's Houthi rebels have threatened to ban Saudi Arabia's products from entering the war-torn nation in response to the Kingdom's boycott on Lebanese products in retaliation to the remarks of a Lebanese Minister regarding the ongoing conflict between Houthi rebels and Saudi led coalition.
"If Saudi Arabia bans the products of Lebanon for the position taken by the Minister of Information George Kordahi, then I call on the (Houthi) Yemeni government to hold an emergency meeting to take a decision of banning Saudi products," Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported on Saturday citing a tweet by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the militia's revolutionary committee.
Saudi Arabia has recalled its Ambassador to Beirut, asked the Lebanese envoy in the Kingdom to leave within 48 hours and banned Lebanese products. Saudi Arabia has for decades been a huge market for Lebanese products.
The move comes as Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi.described on a TV program filmed in August and aired this week the war in Yemen as an aggression by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He called the war 'absurd', saying it must stop because he is opposed to wars between Arabs
Other coalition countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, also adopted similar measures.
However, the Lebanese government said the Minister's remarks were made months before his appointment. The Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah has shown support to Kordahi's remarks, according to Lebanese media.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said in a statement: We urge that all diplomatic channels remain open between the parties to ensure meaningful dialogue on the pressing issues facing Lebanon. Lebanon's Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib said Prime Minister Najib Mikati is in contact with foreign officials who asked him not to think about resigning. The minister added that he is in contact with the Americans to help solve the crisis.
Lebanon's Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi told the U.S.-based Arabic-language Alhurra TV that Mikati has asked the international community, specifically the U.S., to help solve the crisis, and to open room for dialogue with Saudi Arabia over all pending issues.
The row is one of the worst rifts between the Gulf nations and Lebanon in years. Relations have been strained over growing Iranian influence in the small nation, where Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a powerful ally.
Yemen has been convulsed by civil war since 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels captured the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north of the country. That forced the internationally recognized government to flee to the south, then to Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015, backed by the United States, to try to restore the government to power. Despite a relentless air campaign and ground fighting, the war has deteriorated largely into a stalemate and spawned the world's worst humanitarian crisis.