Lebanon’s caretaker president asked the foreign minister to abdicate his duties on Wednesday. The decision came following the foreign minister’s comments in a television interview, in which he accused the Gulf states of being responsible for the rise of the ISIS terrorist group in the Levant region.
Charbel Wehbe, who holds a foreign minister position in Lebanon’s caretaker government, spoke on a television interview on Monday. Among other comments that caused heavy criticism in the Gulf region, Wehbe alleged that Gulf states had contributed to the rise of ISIS terrorist group in the Levant region.
Following his comments, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, and Bahrain issued separate statements condemning the minister’s allegations. Furthermore, Lebanon’s ambassadors in these countries were summoned to the Foreign Ministry’s of these countries and given formal complaints.
In its statement, the UAE Foreign Ministry “has strongly decried the derogatory and racist statements made by caretaker Lebanese Foreign Minister, Charbel Wehbe, against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.” GCC Secretary-General Nayef Al Hajraf also requested a formal apology from the Lebanese Foreign Minister.
Wehbe’s statements came amid a situation where his country attempts to improve relations with Gulf states to overcome challenges derived from the country’s deep economic crisis. His comments have been considered as undermining these efforts.
Following heavy criticisms, Lebanese President Michel Aoun had talks with Foreign Minister Wehbe. After their meeting, Wehbe expressed that he had submitted a request to step down “in light of the recent developments and the circumstances that accompanied the interview I gave to a television station.”