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Lebanon keeping Saudi ambassador at the door

18 December 2017 11:37

 

Lebanon has been delaying the official reception of the new Saudi Arabian ambassador apparently over recent standoffish behavior by Riyadh that included holding Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in Saudi Arabia against his will and forcing him to resign from his post, a Kuwaiti newspaper says.

While Prime Minister Hariri later left Saudi Arabia and retracted his decision to resign, the Lebanese state seems to have remained scarred by the episode, the latest instance of Saudi Arabian interference in the domestic affairs of Lebanon.

On Saturday, Kuwaiti daily Al Seyassah reported that Lebanese President Michel Aoun was refraining from scheduling a date to receive Saudi Ambassador Walid al-Yaqoub’s credentials.

Yaqoub arrived in Lebanon on November 20. Almost a month since then, he is yet to find a chance to submit his credentials and officially start work.

Earlier in November, Hariri had been lured into Saudi Arabia, where his mobile phones were confiscated on arrival at the airport and was taken into effective detention. Shortly afterwards, he appeared on Saudi television from Riyadh, announcing his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister and blaming Iran and Hezbollah for the decision.

Lebanese government and intelligence officials soon concluded that Hariri was being held against his will and that he had been pressured to resign.

President Aoun refused to accept Hariri’s resignation, which he implied had been made under duress.

Later, and partially after an intervention by France, Hariri returned to Lebanon, where he ultimately rescinded his resignation.

That Saudi stunt was widely seen as an attempt to disrupt the political balance in Lebanon because of Riyadh’s antagonism toward Iran.

While the Saudi attempt failed to achieve intended results, and even worked to bring about opposite effects, its adverse effects continue to mark Lebanese-Saudi relations.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia had reportedly delayed the reception of the new Lebanese ambassador to Riyadh, as well. Al Seyassah said Lebanon may also be reciprocating that behavior by refusing to receive Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, yet.

The Kuwaiti paper also said President Aoun of Lebanon is irritated by the incessant Saudi criticism of his support for Hezbollah.

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