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BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Thursday again called on Information Minister George Kordahi to step down to avoid further escalation with the Gulf.
He urged him to put national interests first and not “to disrupt the work of the government and waste more time.”
Mikati also had harsh words on Thursday for his government partners Hezbollah and allies for exacerbating Lebanon’s diplomatic feud with various Gulf states.
He stressed that “the country is not ruled by mistrust, arrogance, high tones and threats, but rather a common discourse that unites the Lebanese people so that they can work together to save Lebanon”.
Mikati also delivered what appeared to be a strong speech against Hezbollah and its allies.
âAnyone who thinks they can impose their opinion by hampering work and verbal escalation is wrong,â Mikati said.
âAnyone who thinks they can impose choices on the Lebanese that distance them from their history, their Arab depth and their close ties to Arab countries and Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, is also wrong.
Mikati returned from Glasgow on Wednesday after attending the COP26 summit, on the sidelines of which he held a series of meetings with international officials regarding the diplomatic and economic crisis between Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf.
The dispute was sparked by statements made by Kordahi before he became a minister, in which he offended Saudi Arabia and defended the Houthis in Yemen.
Speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV, Kordahi responded to Mikati’s request, saying he would not resign and that his position had not changed.
On Thursday, Mikati met separately with President Michel Aoun and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, and briefed them on the discussions he had on the sidelines of COP26.
He said that he and Aoun had agreed on a roadmap to emerge from the current crisis with the Gulf states.
Mikati noted, âWhen we formed this government after months of disruption, delays and missed opportunities, we announced that we were participating in a rapid rescue mission to advance cooperation with international bodies and the Monetary Fund. international, in addition to organizing parliamentary elections.
“We thought that the painful reality in our country would cause everyone to abandon their personal interests and actively participate in the rescue mission, but that, unfortunately, did not happen.”
Mikati also commented on the Tayouneh incident and the decision of ministers of the Amal Movement and Hezbollah to boycott the Cabinet until Tarek Bitar, the judge in charge of the Beirut port explosion investigation, is dismissed. of its functions.
He also criticized “the exclusivity and obstruction approach to which the government has been subjected from within”.
He added: âA month later we were faced with our first challenge as a government, as we were forced to intervene in a court order with which we have nothing to do.
âWe refused to intervene in the investigation into the Beirut port explosion, but stressed the need for Bitar to correct his course, especially when it comes to trying presidents and ministers. But that was not enough for some people.
Mikati noted, âWe were in the process of finding a way to hold a Cabinet session, but we had to face a more difficult challenge in light of Kordahi’s personal views, which he had expressed before becoming Minister, and Saudi Arabia and some Gulf countries. states have decided to sever ties with Lebanon.
The Prime Minister said: âThe Cabinet is the natural place to discuss all matters of concern to the government, far from dictations, challenges, loud tones and threats. Cabinet will never be a means of interfering in a matter which does not concern the government, and in particular in the work of the judiciary. “
Mikati called on âall ministers to show solidarity and adhere to the ministerial declaration, which sets the ground rules for government work and policy. We are determined to treat relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States on the basis of sound rules.
âWe will not allow political arguments to get the upper hand on this issue. In this context, I once again call on Kordahi to follow his conscience, assess the circumstances, do what needs to be done, and prioritize the national interest over populist slogans. I bet on his patriotic sense to assess the situation and the interest of Lebanese citizens and expatriates.
The Prime Minister also stressed that “anyone who thinks obstruction is the solution” was wrong. “Everyone must understand that no party speaks unilaterally on behalf of Lebanon and the Lebanese people,” he added.
According to political observers, Mikati received international support during her stay in Glasgow.
Political writer Tony Francis told Arab News: âThose Mikati met in Glasgow have called on him to assume his role as Prime Minister and that the ball is in his court and that he must act. The international community will not accept the resignation of its government.
Francois added: âMikati’s positions are sort of adventurous, which Hezbollah and its allies may not respond to. It all depends on what the Iranians want in the region, and they are exploiting all fronts to get what they want.
âOn the other hand, we see that Iran has agreed to resume nuclear negotiations in Vienna on November 29. Mikati’s lofty tone may be part of the Western response to the Iranians; all this means that things will remain ambiguous and that no solution will be found before November 29.