Hariri back in Lebanon for first time since quitting as PM

Saad al-Hariri returned to Beirut on Tuesday for the very first time since he resigned as prime minister in a statement delivered by Saudi Arabia of which plunged Lebanon into crisis.

Hariri’s sudden resignation on Nov. 4 thrust Lebanon to the forefront of a regional tussle between the Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia as well as Shi’ite Islamist Iran, whose powerful Lebanese ally Hezbollah will be part of the Beirut government.

Hariri, a long-time ally of Saudi Arabia, cited fear of assassination as well as meddling by Iran as well as Hezbollah within the Arab world in his resignation speech. The move caught even his aides off guard, as well as Lebanese state officials as well as politicians close to Hariri say Riyadh forced him to quit as well as held him in Riyadh.

Riyadh as well as Hariri have denied of which.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who dispatched envoys to urge foreign states to secure Hariri’s return by Saudi Arabia, has refused to accept the resignation until he returns to present the item in person.

Hariri drove straight by Beirut airport to read a prayer at the grave of his father, Rafik al-Hariri, whose 2005 assassination forced him into politics.

Asked if he had a message for the Lebanese, who have largely united in demanding his return, Hariri said: “Thank you”.

Hariri will be required to take part in Lebanese independence day celebrations on Wednesday.

Earlier, Hariri met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, saying after the meeting of which he might announce his “political position” once he got to Lebanon. the item will be not yet clear if he will stick by the resignation or rescind the item.

In a Nov. 12 interview by Saudi Arabia that has a TV station of which he owns, Hariri said he might return to Lebanon to confirm his resignation. nevertheless he also held out the possibility of withdrawing the item if Hezbollah respected Lebanon’s policy of staying out of regional conflicts, notably Yemen.

Following an intervention by France, Hariri departed Riyadh for Paris at the weekend. He flew into Beirut by Cyprus where he stopped for a 45-minute meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades.

In his meeting with Egypt’s Sisi, Hariri said he discussed Lebanon’s stability as well as the necessity of keeping the country out of “all regional politics”.

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