After being missing for a solid week, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri made his first public remarks, on a Saudi TV broadcast out of Riyadh. He suggested he was free to leave Saudi Arabia, and would do so in the coming days.
Reports have suggested Hariri was forced to resign by the Saudis, and has been held since. He was claimed to have left the country several times by Saudi media last week, but never actually did so. His statement in the new broadcast aimed to explain what happened, but added to the questions.
A visibly-shaken Hariri now claims he resigned as a “wake-up call for Lebanon,” but conceded it wasn’t final, hinting he could rescind his resignation if Hezbollah agreed to make certain concessions. This included Hariri demanding Hezbollah stay out a Yemen, a telling demand since the Saudis are the only ones claiming Hezbollah has any involvement in Yemen in the first place.
Hariri warned that the Arab states are likely to impose sanctions on Lebanon, and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese in the Gulf are also at risk. He claimed security concerns were what had prevented him returning to Lebanon beforehand.
That doesn’t explain media reports citing other family members describing Hariri arriving in Saudi Arabia last weekend only to have his phone seized and to be handed a resignation statement, let alone why he was reported to have gone to the United Arab Emirates almost immediately after the resignation, but never left Riyadh then went totally incommunicado for days on end.
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