Lebanon’s shaky political situation was dealt another blow Wednesday when Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe submitted his resignation to President Michel Aoun after insulting Gulf states in an interview earlier this week and causing a diplomatic crisis that has refused to die down.
“I hope this subject will now be closed once and for all and fade into oblivion, to allow the Lebanese relationships with Arab and friendly and brotherly countries to be based on mutual respect,” the disgraced diplomat said in a statement. On Monday, Wehbe claimed in a television interview that Gulf nations were responsible for the rise of ISIS, only to quickly apologize the following day.
Aoun, as well as the country’s outgoing and designated prime ministers, sharply rebuked the remarks, but the damage was already done.
On Tuesday both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates filed official letters of protest to Beirut’s ambassadors and, along with the Gulf Cooperation Council, expressed their displeasure at the “derogatory and racist statements.”
Lebanon for the past two years has dealt with one of the worst economic, political and social crises in its history, exacerbated by the global pandemic and the deadly August blast at the port in Beirut.