Charbel Wehbe, Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, defended the honor of Lebanese President Michel Aoun and senior politician Gebran Bassil to a Saudi guest on an Al-Hurra TV (U.S.) talk show that aired on May 17, 2021. He spoke in response to Salman Al-Ansari, president of the Saudi-American Public Affairs Committee, in a segment of the show that was edited from the online version. Wehbe asked the host of the show: "Am I supposed to be insulted by one of those Bedouins?" He then accused the Gulf states of financing ISIS and bringing it into Iraq and Syria. Wehbe then said that Hizbullah's weapons are an "insurance policy" against a possible Gaza scenario, in which Lebanon is attacked by Israel. The interview has since caused public uproar, and Wehbe was forced to announce his resignation from the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Salman Al-Ansari: "Saudi Arabia supports the Lebanese people, first and foremost. History proves that, and more than $70 billion have been given [to Lebanon] by Saudi Arabia in the past 20 years..."
Host: "Is it possible that Saudi Arabia will renew its financial aid to Lebanon, in case that any PM [other than Hariri] is elected, or are there specific conditions?"
Al-Ansari: "That's an excellent question, sister Layal. Just last year... It has been leaked that last year, Saudi Arabia wanted to hold a conference on the subject of Saudi-Lebanese strategic relations. It was supposed to be a big conference, larger than any other conference in the past that dealt with donations in the fields of economy, politics, and so on. But who sabotaged it? Michel Aoun and Gebran Bassil, the Odd Couple... Therefore, there is no aid right now. I believe that things will take a different path now, with regard to relations..."
Charbel Wehbe: "He is talking about the President of Lebanon. This is unacceptable..."
Al-Ansari: "It will all be dependent upon the internal situation in Lebanon. How can Saudi Arabia provide aid..."
Host: "Thank you..."
Wehbe: "Let me go away."
Host: "No. Your excellency. Please..."
Wehbe: "I will not allow for the President to be insulted like that."
Al-Ansari: "But the President..."
Wehbe: "Who killed Khashoggi in Istanbul? Someone who killed Khashoggi in Istanbul cannot talk like that."
Al-Ansari: "This kind of language..."
Wehbe: "You brought me to use this language. You should be moderate and have some vision."
Al-Ansari: "Michel Aoun said that Lebanon can do to hell..."
Wehbe: "It's 'the honorable President Michel Aoun' for you..."
Al-Ansari: "And it will indeed go to hell if it continues to be in the hands of politicians like these."
Wehbe: "The honorable President of the Republic deserves all respect..."
Al-Ansari: "You sold Lebanon to Hizbullah in order to please Hizbullah, which unfortunately controls..."
Wehbe: "Okay, that's enough..."
Host: "Thank you Mr. Salman..."
Wehbe: "I will not keep silent and let him insult the President."
Host: "Thank you, Mr. Salman, for this interview..."
Wehbe: "What kind of show is this?"
Host: "Please, sir. Please..."
Wehbe: "I will not allow it. I am in Lebanon. Am I supposed to be insulted by one of those Bedouins?"
Host: "You answered him."
Wehbe: "How can I allow it? Have some dignity. You are an insolent man."
Host: "Please sir. You answered him."
Wehbe: "I don't want this..."
Host: "Please sir. Do me a favor."
Wehbe: "The weapons of Hizbullah fall under the responsibility of Hizbullah. There is no doubt that Lebanon bears this responsibility, but it is not Lebanon's decision [what to do with these weapons]."
Host: "Whose decision is it?"
Wehbe: "Hizbullah's decision. When Israel occupied Lebanese lands, these people mobilized to defend its sovereignty and liberated the South."
Host: "But today, we are in a different place."
Wehbe: "Indeed. In came ISIS. They were brought here by the countries of love, friendship, and fraternity..."
Host: "Are you talking about the Gulf countries?"
Wehbe: "I do not want to say that. The countries of love brought us the Islamic State, and planted it in the Nineveh Plains, in Al-Anbar, in Palmyra, and in..."
Host: "Did they finance it?"
Wehbe: "Who else, me? Did I finance it? Did I finance ISIS, did I gather fighters from Tunisia, Europe, Latin America, and North America, in order to fight in the ranks of the Islamic State?"
Host: "Today, in the current political situation, what is the justification for its existence?
Wehbe: "Of what?"
Host: "Of the weapons [of Hizbullah], which you say is the business of Hizbullah and not of the Lebanese state."
Wehbe: "Look at what is going on in Gaza today. Did the same thing happen in Lebanon? If these weapons deter the Israeli enemy, I do not want to touch it. For me, it is an insurance policy. It costs a lot, but I am willing to pay the price."
Host: "The cost is the collapse of our economy."
Wehbe: "If I have to choose between economic collapse or the collapse of Lebanese sovereignty and the occupation of Lebanese lands..."
Host: "What would you choose?"
Wehbe: "I would choose my dignity and my sovereignty. Economy comes and goes."