Pledging on Saturday that he would return to Lebanon “within days,” Prime Minister Saad Hariri raised some eyebrows in promising to clarify his position upon returning, after weeks being held nearly incommunicado in Saudi Arabia, before finally heading to France late last week.
Hariri visited Saudi Arabia at the start of the month, and announced his resignation almost immediately, with media reports since suggesting the resignation was penned by Saudi officials. The assurances that he’d be in Beirut “within days” have been made repeatedly for weeks now, and he’s never managed to get back.
This time might be no different, as despite this latest assurance, officials have since announced that Hariri is not going to be returning to Lebanon from France, but rather will be headed to Egypt for “consultations” with the head of the military junta there.
How long he’s to be in Egypt for isn’t clear, but even after that, reports are he’s headed to Kuwait after that. Though there had previously been assurances he’d be back in Beirut for Wednesday’s Independence Day ceremonies. this seems like it’s not going to happen, with his arrival in Egypt set for Tuesday.
Lebanon’s President Aoun has not accepted Hariri’s resignation from abroad, and most Lebanese officials believe it came under duress. Despite him having managed to extricate himself from Saudi Arabia, there’s still speculation he is effectively “in exile” at this point, and won’t be allowed back in Lebanon, with Saudi Arabia said to be planning to replace him with his elder brother.
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