Two major delivery companies have canceled or drastically scaled back their services between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, employees said on Wednesday, following a major diplomatic row between the two countries.
DHL has stopped inbound and outbound shipments between the two countries, a company employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
An email seen by AFP told staff the decision was made “with immediate effect” on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, an employee at FedEx’s call center in Saudi Arabia said all shipments between the two countries apart from documents had been stopped, calling it “a new order from the company.”
On Friday, Saudi Arabia gave Lebanon’s ambassador 48 hours to leave, recalled its envoy from Beirut and suspended all imports from Lebanon.
Bahrain and Kuwait quickly followed with similar measures, and the United Arab Emirates on Saturday recalled its diplomats from Beirut in “solidarity” with Riyadh.
Saudi authorities said the measures were taken after “insulting” remarks made by Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi and due to the influence of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hizbullah.
In an interview recorded in August and aired last week, Kordahi said Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen were “defending themselves… against an external aggression” by a Saudi-led military coalition.
A Saudi-led military coalition that has included the UAE and Bahrain intervened to prop up the Yemeni government in 2015 after Huthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.
Kordahi’s comments sparked angry rebukes from Saudi Arabia and its allies, further worsening diplomatic ties that have weakened significantly in recent years over the growing influence in Lebanon of Hizbullah, which is viewed by the kingdom as a “terrorist” group.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia said dealing with Beirut was “pointless” due to Hizbullah’s “dominance.”
The row is a fresh blow to Lebanon, a country in financial and political turmoil where a fragile government is struggling to secure international aid, particularly from wealthy Arab powers.