PM Mikati may step down after Aoun sided with Hezbollah, over Kordahi’s anti Saudi remarks

File photo of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati

Prime Minister Najib Mikati may soon step down after President Michel Aoun sided with the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group in rejecting the option of firing Information Minister George Kordahi over his insulting remarks against Saudi Arabia

Aoun is allied with Hezbollah but pledged earlier in the week to help resolve the crisis with Saudi Arabia and reportedly agreed with Speaker Berri to fire Kordahi over his anti Saudi remarks .

Aoun’s change in position could reportedly paralyze the cabinet that has not met since the Ain Rummaneh incident and is expected to worsen the diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, amid a continued failure by the country’s leaders to find an exit.

“He might resort to the option of resignation ” Al-Liwaa newspaper quoted its sources as saying

Al-Liwaa newspaper sources were quoted as saying that Aoun and Mikati failed to agree on a solution in their meeting on Thursday after the President “rejected the option of firing Information Minister George Kordahi in order avoid any negative repercussions over his relation with Hezbollah.”

Mikati on Thursday openly called on Kordahi to voluntarily quit in order to “pacify the atmosphere

“Do what needs to be done,” Mikati told Kordahi an apparent appeal for him to step down over an unprecedented diplomatic rift with Saudi Arabia.

He also slammed his partners in government — Hezbollah and its allies — who have rejected calls on Kordahi to resign.

“We’re determined to address the file of the relation with Saudi Arabi and the Gulf countries according to proper norms and we won’t leave this file to be subject to political bickering and wrangling,” Mikati stressed.

“The government is the right place for discussing files, away from dictations, and no Lebanese party can control the country on its own,” he added, noting that “mistaken are those who think that obstruction and political escalation are the solution. ” 

“Mistaken are those who consider that they can remove Lebanon from its Arab environment, especially from its ties with Saudi Arabia,” Mikati stressed, in an apparent reference to the Iranian backed militant group which is allied with Kordahi and which has been training the Houthi rebels in Yemen .

Prime Minister Mikati cannot fire the minister without approval of at least two-thirds of the Cabinet and Lebanon’s president.

“Mistaken are those who think that they can impose their opinion through the power of obstruction or verbal escalation,” he added. “Mistaken are those who think that they can stage a coup against the constitution and return the country to internal strife and divisions,” the premier went on to say without naming Hezbollah.

Some Hezbollah-allied ministers have threatened to quit if Kordahi resigns . Kordahi was named to the government by the Marada Movement, a party that is allied with Hezbollah and the Syrian regime .

Shiites in Saudi Arabia could be deported and lose their jobs

Lebanese media reported that that “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not satisfied with the measures it took so far against Lebanon. Lebanon Debate , an Arabic language website quoted foreign sources as saying that “the kingdom has begun sending messages to Lebanese citizens of the “Shiite” sect to leave the country .

Such a development could be devastating for the Lebanese families of all sects who live in Lebanon and who greatly depend on remittances by their loved ones who live and work in the Arab Gulf countries.

There is an estimated 500, 000 Lebanese in Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf countries . Prior to the pandemic almost 70 % of all remittances by Lebanese diaspora came from the Gulf Arab countries

Unlike Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf countries Iran has never helped Lebanon financially . It only funds Hezbollah and except for a handful of Shiite Scholars very few Lebanese live and work in Iran whose economic situations is as bad as Lebanon’s if not worse