After a year and a half of squabbles over the Saudi-led military involvement in Yemen, Bahrain said on Saturday that it will resume full diplomatic relations with Lebanon.
After a Lebanese minister criticized Riyadh’s military operation in Yemen, Bahrain and other Gulf countries followed Saudi Arabia in recalling their diplomats toward the end of 2021.
Manama, a close ally of Riyadh, has also urged its people in Lebanon to leave the country.
However, the tiny Gulf nation said on Saturday that it was breaking the standoff, which Beirut applauded.
“The Kingdom of Bahrain has decided to restore diplomatic representation” at ambassador level in Lebanon, the Bahraini foreign ministry said, adding that this would “strengthen the fraternal relations between the two countries”.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati stated that the country “appreciates and welcomes this decision.”
In October 2021, a diplomatic crisis erupted as the then-information minister was quoted criticizing Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen, where a grinding war has resulted in what the UN calls the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.
In a television interview, George Kordahi, who has since resigned, stated that the Huthi rebels fighting Yemen’s internationally recognized government were “defending themselves… against an external aggression.”
Riyadh recalled its ambassador and ordered Lebanon’s envoy to leave the kingdom in response. Its Gulf allies, the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait, followed suit and expelled Lebanon’s envoys.
In April of last year, Saudi Arabia returned its envoy to Lebanon.
The Bahraini decision comes a day after the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, amid an unexpected thaw between Riyadh and Tehran, mediated by Beijing.
The improved relations between the region’s two main rivals have prepared the way for a significant diplomatic overhaul in the Arab world.