Saudi Arabia on Friday ordered the Lebanese ambassador to the kingdom to leave the country within 48 hours and stopped all imports from Lebanon, The Associated Press reported, citing Saudi state media.
According to the report, the Saudi ambassador to Beirut was also asked to head back home.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati responded to Saudi Arabia’s move and reiterated his government’s commitment to good relations with Saudi Arabia.
In a statement quoted by Reuters, Mikati said he regretted Saudi Arabia’s decision to expel the Lebanese ambassador and ban imports, but said he would continue to work towards fixing the relationship.
The move came days after a video circulated on social media in which Lebanon’s Information Minister, George Kordahi, described the war in Yemen as an aggression by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Kordahi made the comments on a TV program before he was chosen for the post in September. Kordahi is close to the Christian Marada Movement, a close ally of Hezbollah.
Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen are both backed by Iran, which is Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly called on Iran to stop its “meddling” in the affairs of the kingdom's neighbors. Iran has fired back, accusing Saudi Arabia of trying to “drag the entire region into confrontation”.
However, the two countries have been engaged in talks since April with the aim of improving relations, for the first time since cutting ties in 2016. The talks have been described as being on the right track.
Friday’s move also comes several days after Saudi Arabia classified the Lebanon-based Al-Qard Al-Hassan association as a terrorist entity, citing links to activities supporting Hezbollah.
"The association works on managing funds for the terrorist organization (Hezbollah) and its financing, including support for military purposes," the state news agency said, quoting a security statement.
The statement added that all assets belonging to the association inside the kingdom should be frozen and "it is prohibited to carry out any direct or indirect dealings with or for the benefit of the association."
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)