Following a statement from Lebanese Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe, which has soured relations between Gulf Arab allies and donors, the foreign minister has called on the president to relieve him of his responsibilities.
According to a report by the British news agency, the acting foreign minister of Lebanon had said in a television interview that the Gulf countries are behind the rise of extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.
He made the remarks during a verbal altercation with a Saudi guest on the show who accused Lebanese President Michel Naim Aoun of handing over his country to Hezbollah.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain had summoned Lebanese ambassadors to their respective countries over the statement.
The foreign minister’s statement was a threat to efforts to improve relations with Gulf countries during Lebanon’s severe economic crisis.
The Gulf states were already reluctant to provide financial assistance to Lebanon, as they used to do, due to the growing influence of the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Therefore, after the meeting, the Lebanese president said that he had requested to step down in the light of the situation and the developments that have come to light following an interview given on television.
According to a report, Charbel Wehbe had said after his statement that his intention was not to anger the Arab countries.
On the other hand, the Lebanese government, which is facing severe economic difficulties, also expressed dissatisfaction with the remarks, that sparked a wave of anger in Arab countries.
The Lebanese president said Charbel Wehbe’s statement was his “personal opinion” and did not reflect the state’s position. He also commended “fraternal” relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.