Hariri back in Lebanon for first time since quitting as PM
Sudden resignation thrust Lebanon to fore of regional tussle between Saudi Arabia and Iran
Saad al-Hariri (right), who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister from Saudi Arabia, is seen at the grave of his father, assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, in downtown Beirut tonight. Photograph: Jamal Saidi/Reuters
Lebanese policemen guard a jet carrying Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister from Saudi Arabia, at Beirut’s international airport, in Beirut, Lebanon, tonight. Photograph: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters
Mr Hariri’s sudden resignation on November 4th thrust Lebanon to the forefront of a regional tussle between the Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shia Islamist Iran, whose powerful Lebanese ally Hizbullah is part of the government.
Mr Hariri was greeted by members of the security forces as he disembarked from a jet at Beirut airport, live footage of his arrival showed.
Mr Hariri, a long-time ally of Saudi Arabia, cited fear of assassination and meddling by Iran and Hizbullah in the Arab world in his resignation speech. The move caught even his aides off guard, and politicians close to him say Riyadh forced him to quit and held him in Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh and Mr Hariri himself have denied this.
Refused to accept resignation
Lebanese president Michel Aoun has refused to accept the resignation until Mr Hariri returns to present it in person.
Earlier, Mr Hariri met Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, saying after the meeting he would announce his “political position” in Lebanon.
In a November 12th interview from Saudi Arabia with Future TV, a station affiliated with his political party, Mr Hariri said he would return to Lebanon to confirm his resignation.
But he also held out the possibility of withdrawing it if Hizbullah respected Lebanon’s policy of staying out of regional conflicts such as that in Yemen. – Reuters