Lebanon Backtracks Diplomat’s Remarks as Gulf Fumes
Lebanon is continuing to face severe backlash for remarks made on Monday by its foreign minister, Charbel Wehbe, who blamed Gulf nations for the rise of ISIS. On Tuesday, both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates summoned their respective Lebanese ambassadors to file official letters of protest and express their displeasure at Beirut’s top diplomat’s “derogatory and racist statements.” Nayef al-Hajraf, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, also condemned the “unacceptable” accusations. During a television interview, Wehbe claimed the Gulf “countries of love, friendship and fraternity brought us the Islamic State,” only to quickly apologize the following day. Lebanese President Michele Aoun, as well as the country’s outgoing and designated prime ministers, all criticized and tried to downplay Wehbe’s remarks on Tuesday. Lebanon, which is dealing with one of the worst economic, political and social crises in its history, has looked to regain Riyadh’s financial support.