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Hariri says will clarify stance on Lebanon after returning home

19 November 2017 9:12

 

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said he will announce his position with regard to the ongoing crisis in the country after he returns to Lebanon in the coming days.

“With regard to the political situation in Lebanon, I will go to Beirut in the coming days, I will participate in the independence celebrations, and it is there that I will make known my position on these subjects after meeting President [Michel] Aoun,” Hariri said after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday.

Hariri stunned Lebanon and the region by announcing his resignation in a live television broadcast from Saudi Arabia on November 4.

Senior sources close to Hariri and top Lebanese political and security officials said Saudi Arabia had coerced Hariri into stepping down and had put him under house arrest.

After days of confusion about Hariri’s situation in Saudi Arabia, the Lebanese premier and his wife arrived in the French capital, Paris, on Saturday, but two of his children have stayed behind in Riyadh.

In Paris, Hariri held talks with Macron, who had invited the Lebanese politician to the European country in an attempt to lower the tensions that erupted after his abrupt resignation.

Separately on Saturday, Hariri called the Lebanese president and said he would be in Lebanon for the country’s Independence Day on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, as part of the fallout of Hariri’s resignation, Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador to Germany for consultations following remarks by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

During a news conference with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil this week, the German foreign minister slammed interference in Lebanon’s domestic affairs. He reportedly added: “Another trouble spot is the last thing that people in the Middle East need now.”

According to the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Arabia also plans to hand over a protest note to Germany’s ambassador to Riyadh.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry did not comment directly on the development Saturday, but it issued a statement, saying, “We are very concerned about the stability of the region and call on all sides to reduce tensions.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (R) and his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil talk after a joint press conference in Berlin on November 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

 

Aoun, an ally of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement, had stressed earlier that Hariri was living in “mysterious circumstances” in Riyadh, with his freedom being restricted in violation of international human rights regulations. Aoun also refused to accept Hariri’s resignation, saying he had to return to Lebanon first and convince the president that his resignation had been voluntarily offered.

While reading his resignation statement, Hariri said the premiership was no longer tenable for him due to what he called intervention by Hezbollah and Iran.

Both Iran and Hezbollah have categorically denied the allegations, calling it a scenario by Zionists, Saudis and the US to create new tensions in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Hariri also said that he sensed a plot being hatched against his life. Lebanese intelligence and security authorities have denied there was any plot to assassinate Hariri.

Analysts say Hariri was targeted by Saudi Arabia as he refused to adopt a confrontational approach against Hezbollah, a powerful political party which is part of the Hariri-led coalition government.

According to informed sources, Saudi officials have given Saad Hariri two options: One: return to Beirut, but take a constant aggressive stance against Hezbollah and any government Hezbollah partakes in. Two: go to exile to anywhere in Europe, keep silent and leave politics for good.

Reports also say the Saudis are trying to put Saad Hariri’s brother, Bahaa, as the leader of the Future Movement in Lebanon and the new “man of Saudi Arabia” in the country.

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