Lebanon’s foreign minister offers to resign after blaming Gulf states for the rise of IS

Foreign minister Charbel Wehbe offered his resignation on Wednesday in the wake of global condemnation over remarks he made suggesting the Gulf states were responsible for the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

Lebanese President Michel Aoun confirmed that Wehbe had submitted his resignation in a tweet posted on Wednesday. The diplomat evidently felt he could no longer fulfil his duties and responsibilities in light of the controversy generated by the views he had expressed in a TV interview.

“Those countries of love, friendship, and fraternity, they got us Islamic State and planted it in the plains of Nineveh and Anbar and Palmyra,” Wehbe had said, referencing the Gulf states during a broadcast on the Alhurra regional network on Monday.

Aoun had previously rejected the foreign minister’s comments as a “personal opinion” that “in no way reflects the position of the Lebanese state,” while Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri condemned Wehbe for angering allies when Beirut was “drowning” in crises.

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FILE PHOTO. Islamic State fighter (ISIS; ISIL) waving a flag while standing on captured government fighter jet in Raqqa, Syria. © Getty Images / Universal History Archive
Saudi Arabia summons Lebanese ambassador, condemns foreign minister for blaming Gulf states for rise of ISIS

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia summoned the Lebanese ambassador to hand him an “official memorandum of protest” over the foreign minister’s remarks, after Riyadh claimed he had damaged “brotherly relations” between the two countries. Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates also made similar moves to issue formal complaints over the remarks.

Wehbe was appointed as foreign minister in Lebanon’s caretaker government, which was formed after the previous administration was forced to resign following public outrage over the 2020 explosion in Beirut that killed 207 and left thousands injured.

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