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Lebanon crisis

Lebanon’s top diplomat expected to step down after racist comments targeting Gulf

Published: Updated:

Lebanon’s top diplomat is expected to step down from his position this week, a senior Foreign Ministry official said late Tuesday, hours after the minister accused Gulf countries of supporting ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Charbel Wehbe, who is currently the foreign minister in a caretaker capacity, unleashed a reckless diatribe against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf during a televised interview with Al-Hurra on Monday.

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Following public backlash from Lebanese officials, politicians and the public, Wehbe will now “probably announce that he’s stepping down,” the ministry official told Al Arabiya English.

Beirut has already been reeling from strained ties with the Gulf due to Hezbollah’s increased influence and role in state institutions following the election of President Michel Aoun, an ally of the Iran-backed group, in 2016.

Apart from his accusations, which he did not provide any evidence for, Wehbe also used racist terms to describe the people of Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait summoned Lebanon’s ambassadors to their respective countries due to Wehbe’s remarks.

The Gulf Cooperation Council demanded a formal apology from Wehbe for his comments.

Aoun appointed Wehbe to be the foreign minister after Nassif Hitti resigned a day before the catastrophic Beirut blast due to his frustration with Hassan Diab’s government.

A week after succeeding Hitti, Wehbe became a caretaker minister following the resignation of Diab.

It is unclear who will succeed Wehbe, who was the diplomatic adviser of Aoun before being tapped to head Lebanon’s foreign policy.

Read more: Bahrain, Kuwait strongly condemn Lebanon’s FM statements on Saudi Arabia and GCC