Lebanon's President: Holding Prime Minister Hariri Is an Act of Aggression

Nov 17, 2017, 00:34
Lebanon's President: Holding Prime Minister Hariri Is an Act of Aggression

Lebanon's president accused Saudi Arabia on Wednesday of detaining the Lebanese prime minister, an escalation in the crisis that followed Saad Hariri's surprised resignation from the kingdom nearly two weeks ago.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said on Thursday the kingdom's actions in the Middle East were a response to what he called the "aggression" of Iran. He has not been back to Lebanon since, fueling speculation that he was being held against his will.

Lebanon has accused Saudi Arabia of detaining Hariri since his surprise resignation, announced from Riyadh on November 4, which plunged his country into political crisis.

France, Lebanon's onetime colonial ruler, has been trying to mediate in the crisis between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

In a television interview on Sunday, Hariri said he would return to Lebanon within days and held out the possibility he could rescind his resignation if Hezbollah agreed to stay out of regional conflicts such as Yemen. Aoun is a Hezbollah ally but is personally close to Hariri.

"We will carry these concerns to the king and crown prince and wish well", he said.

The measures are set in place to neutralize the country, keeping it away from the conflict between regional powers, obliging Hezbollah to withdraw from the fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, setting a timeline for the guerrilla group to seize its weapons, and putting into effect the Baabda Declaration signed by Lebanese factions in 2012 to inhibit internal conflicts.

Le Drian later met with Hariri. In his strongest statements yet about the crisis, Aoun said Wednesday there was no reason for the prime minister not to return to Lebanon.

"We consider him detained, arrested" in violation of worldwide laws, Aoun wrote on his official Twitter account.

France's foreign minister, Le Drian, said Paris was working to normalise the situation in Lebanon.

Le Drian raised concern over Iran's role in the region. Hariri has also been the leader of the Future Movement party since 2005. He pleaded with the interviewer to finish the questioning and said he was "tired".

A poster depicting Saad al-Hariri, who has resigned as Lebanon's prime minister, is seen in Beirut, Lebanon, November 14, 2017. When asked about reports that he is not communicative and doesn't use his phone much, he said: "I am in a reflective state", adding that he didn't want any distractions amid a very busy schedule.

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