Lebanese caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe implied during an interview with Al-Hurra that Arab countries were behind ISIS reaching Lebanon and neighboring countries.
Answering a question about Hezbollah‘s arms, Wehbe said that the French “will not address the issue of Hezbollah.”
“[Hezbollah] bears the responsibility of Hezbollah‘s weapons. There’s no doubt that Lebanon bears this responsibility, but the decision is the party’s decision. When Israel was occupying Lebanon, the party’s youth were recruited to defend Lebanon’s sovereignty and liberated the south.”
The official then said: “There is a second stage when ISIS came, and the countries of the people of love, friendship, and brotherhood brought them.”
“The countries of love brought us the Islamic State and planted it for us in the Nineveh Plains, Anbar, and Palmyra,” he added.
The remarks created a political storm in Lebanon, with several former and current officials blasting Wehbe, including Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who said Wehbe’s words “do not have any connection with diplomatic action.”
Reports have indicated that the Arab Gulf countries are upset with Wehbe’s statements, speculating that the indirect accusation might cause a diplomatic crisis between them and Lebanon.
Following the backlash, the caretaker Minister issued a statement claiming his words were “misinterpreted and altered to strain relations” with the Arab Gulf states.
Lebanon’s diplomatic relations with the Arab Gulf countries have significantly deteriorated following Hezbollah‘s rise into government. This led to a decline in investments and tourism from those countries – which were some of Lebanon’s main sources of revenue and contributors to the now-dwindling foreign currency reserve.