Riyadh has summoned Lebanon’s ambassador to lodge a complaint against Beirut’s foreign minister for damaging “brotherly relations” between the two countries, after he claimed Gulf states were responsible for the ascent of ISIS.
In a statement on Tuesday, the kingdom strongly condemned Lebanon’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Charbel Wehbe for declaring during a recent TV interview that Gulf states had “brought us ISIS”.
Despite Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun dismissing the minister’s remarks as “his personal opinion” that “in no way reflects the position of the Lebanese state,” Saudi Arabia summoned Beirut’s ambassador to Riyadh on Tuesday to express its anger at the accusation and to hand him an “official memorandum of protest.”
“Given the repercussions that these disgraceful statements may have on the relations between the two brotherly countries, the Ministry summoned the Ambassador of the Lebanese Republic to the Kingdom to express the Kingdom’s rejection and denunciation of the abuses issued by the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs,” the Saudi ministry’s statement on the issue read.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri has also condemned Wehbe’s outburst, warning that Beirut is already “drowning” in crises without angering its allies. It is not clear if he will reprimand Wehbe for his remarks or request his resignation to mitigate the damage caused to Lebanon’s relations with Saudi Arabia.
In comments after Saudi Arabia summoned the Lebanese ambassador, Dr Nayef Falah Mubarak Hajraf, Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf States, decried Beirut’s foreign minister for making statements that “are not consistent with the historical relations between the GCC countries and Lebanon”.
Alongside his criticism, the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council called on the minister to issue a formal apology to the Gulf states and their people for the “unacceptable offenses” that were caused by his remarks.
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