Saudi Arabia summons Lebanon envoy over minister’s remarks
Lebanese top diplomat’s remarks on the Gulf states and the rise of ISIL were ‘insulting’, Riyadh says.
Wehbe apologised, saying he did not mean to offend 'brotherly Arab countries' [Screenshot/Reuters]
18 May 2021
Saudi Arabia has summoned the Lebanese ambassador to protest against “insulting” remarks by Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe, who made critical comments about the Gulf states.
In a television interview on Monday, Wehbe appeared to blame Gulf nations for the rise of the ISIL (ISIS) armed group in the Levant region.
Lebanese musician Samir Sfeir missing in Saudi Arabia: Reports
Saudi Arabia condemns Israel for ‘flagrant violations’ in Gaza
Saudi Arabia eases travel ban for vaccinated citizens
“Those countries of love, friendship and fraternity, they brought us Islamic State,” he told Alhurra, without naming the countries.
Wehbe made the comment during a verbal duel with a Saudi guest on the show, who blamed Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun for “handing over” his country to the Lebanese Shia movement, Hezbollah, which is backed by Riyadh’s rival Tehran.
The Saudi foreign ministry strongly condemned Wehbe’s “insulting” remarks, saying they were “inconsistent with the simplest diplomatic norms”.
The ministry “summoned the Lebanese ambassador to express the kingdom’s rejection and denunciation” of his comments, said the statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.
The ambassador was handed an official “letter of protest”, the statement added.
The UAE’s foreign ministry also summoned the Lebanese ambassador to the country and handed him an official protest note.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has strongly decried the derogatory and racist statements made by caretaker Lebanese Foreign Minister, Charbel Wehbe, against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states,” UAE state news agency (WAM) reported on Tuesday.
‘Brotherly’ ties
Wehbe apologised on Tuesday, saying he did not mean to offend “brotherly Arab countries”.
In a separate statement, Nayef al-Hajraf, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), demanded a formal apology from Wehbe to Gulf states for his “unacceptable” remarks.
Faced with a crippling economic crisis, Lebanon’s government also moved swiftly to distance itself from the remarks that angered Riyadh, once a key financial backer of Beirut.
Aoun said the comments were Wehbe’s “personal opinion” and did not reflect the position of the state, as he lauded the “brotherly” ties with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
Lebanon’s outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he had sought an explanation from Wehbe, adding that his country was keen to maintain the “best relations” with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
Saad Hariri, the prime minister-designate who owes much of his family fortune to Saudi backing, also criticised Wehbe, saying his remarks were “not in accordance with diplomatic norms”.
Last month, Saudi Arabia announced it was suspending fruit and vegetable imports from Lebanon, saying shipments were being used for drug smuggling and accusing Beirut of inaction.
The decision was a blow to Lebanon, which is facing its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Turkish firm tells Lebanon to fix debts or face power cuts
Karadeniz says it will cut supplies unless Beirut halts legal action to seize its power barges and sorts out arrears.
11 May 2021
France warns Lebanon’s leaders against ‘collective suicide’
French FM slams Lebanese politicians for failing to pull the country out of its economic meltdown or form a government.
7 May 2021
Lebanon’s Diab pitches cash cards for poor. Cue the backlash
Caretaker Prime Minister Diab fears governing parties won’t support his cash card plan to replace expensive subsidies.
5 May 2021
Nearly 60 prosecuted over Cuba demonstrations, says top official
Another Nicaraguan presidential hopeful arrested in crackdown
Two Turkish soldiers killed in attack in northern Syria: Ministry
Iran rejects UN rights chief’s ‘accusations’ over water protests
Canada is deporting its ‘guardian angels’
US-China talks come at time of heightened tension
Thousands protest amid global anger against COVID restrictions
Can Israel criminalise Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the US?
Our Channels
Our Network
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2021 Al Jazeera Media Network
You rely on Al Jazeera for truth and transparency
We understand that your online privacy is very important and consenting to our collection of some personal information takes great trust. We ask for this consent because it allows Al Jazeera to provide an experience that truly gives a voice to the voiceless.
You have the option to decline the cookies we automatically place on your browser but allowing Al Jazeera and our trusted partners to use cookies or similar technologies helps us improve our content and offerings to you. You can change your privacy preferences at any time by selecting ‘Cookie preferences’ at the bottom of your screen. To learn more, please view our Cookie Policy.
Cookie preferences