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Prime Minister Najib Mikati called Education Minister and Acting Information Minister Abbas Halabi and asked him to assume responsibilities at the Information Ministry in the transitional period after the resignation of Minister George Kordahi.

Kordahi resigned on Friday, saying he was putting the country before his personal interest to help end a diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia brought on by his comments.

Kordahi, a TV host-turned-politician, said he had quit before Emmanuel Macron’svisit to Saudi Arabia in hopes the French president would help ease the crisis triggered by his critical remarks about Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen war.

Saudi Arabia expelled Lebanon’s envoy to the kingdom, recalled its ambassador to Beirut and banned Lebanese imports after Kordahi’s comments, which Riyadh said were a symptom of the wider issue of Iran-backed Hezbollah’s grip on Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have long battled for influence in the region, including in Lebanon, which is struggling with a deep economic crisis and desperately needs financial support from regional and international donors.

Other Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, followed Saudi Arabia’s lead regarding Lebanon.

Kordahi, who represents the Marada party an ally of the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group had refused to resign for weeks, even as Mikati asked him to put “national interest” first.

“I understood from Mikati… that the French want my resignation to take place ahead of his (Macron’s) visit,” Kordahi told a news conference.

“The whole Kordahi affair was a sideshow that showed once again that Lebanon is not a sovereign country and is paying the price of the Saudi-Iranian proxy war “Karim Emile Bitar, head of political science at Saint Joseph University of Beirut was quoted as saying

Ya Libnan /MTV / Reuters

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