Turkey's foreign ministry has summoned the Lebanese ambassador after protesters raised an anti-Turkish banner on the gates of its embassy in Beirut, escalating a war of words between the two countries.
The diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Beirut erupted after Lebanese President Michel Aoun referred to the "state terror practiced by the Ottomans against the Lebanese, especially during World War I,” in a tweet posted last Saturday to mark the centennial of the formation of Greater Lebanon.
He said there had been "hundreds of thousands of victims between famine, conscription and forced labor, without omitting the gallows through which they wanted to annihilate the spirit of emancipation and rebellion".
A day after Aoun’s comments, the Turkish foreign ministry accused the Lebanese president of delivering a "baseless and biased" speech and saying "terror" had not taken place under Ottoman rule.
Turkish diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday that a day earlier, around 10 Lebanese hang a banner on the Turkish embassy's gates in Beirut, reading a verbal threat.
The sources said that following “these provocative acts,” the foreign ministry summoned Lebanon’s Ambassador to Ankara Ghassan Mouallem.
The ministry also called for quick action to protect Turkish interests in Lebanon.
“The Lebanese group advanced to the embassy’s gate despite warnings from police officers, carrying a banner, which featured an image of death mixed with the Turkish flag,” the sources said.
They revealed that the Lebanese protesters belong to a group called “omega team,” which is linked to Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement.
The war of words comes shortly after a visit to Lebanon by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.