Saudis forced out Hariri over refusal to tackle Hezbollah in Lebanon

Saudis forced out Hariri over refusal to tackle Hezbollah in Lebanon

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said on Sunday that he believed Hariri was being held against his will with his movements restricted within the Saudi Capital. But on Monday, Mr Aoun appeared to moderate his stance, saying Mr Hariri's remarks proved the consensus government he had presided over during the a year ago could remain in place, according to Reuters.

Also speaking on Monday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Mr Hariri's remarks a day before gave the "small hope of the possibility of his return to Lebanon", adding, "Iran does not interfere in Lebanon's affairs".

Saying that Iran continues to support the trend of peace and development in the Arab country, he described Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's recent resignation as an "unexpected and suspicious" move.

It comes as the leader of the Iran backed group accused Riyadh of detaining Lebanon's prime minister Saad al-Hariri and forcing him to resign.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

He said Saudi Arabia is likely "trying to establish a regional and global coalition, supported by the United States and President Trump, to try and counter the Iranian presence". Aoun has been convening high-level meetings with Lebanese politicians and foreign diplomats since Hariri stepped down. This year Mr Aoun encouraged runners to call on Mr Hariri to return.

The resignation of the Saudi-allied Hariri's and its aftermath have put Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Shi'ite-led Iran and its regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.

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He spoke after pressure from Lebanese officials, who said his resignation was not accepted because it was declared in Saudi Arabia. He told aides he had heard "encouraging statements" from the crown prince, including a promise to revive a Saudi aid package for the Lebanese army.

The Lebanon president sought to smooth his inquiries with soft language, including reminding Riyadh of a "deep brotherly and friendly relations" between the two countries.

Members of Hariri's own Al Moustaqbal (Future) Party said they had no information on his fate.

"Since Hizbollah has never admitted of such a role, that shouldn't be too hard".

"Hariri's willingness to reach a compromise with Hizbollah and retract his resignation, in addition to the conciliatory tone of his interview vis-à-vis Hizbollah, indicates it's now likely a solution can be reached similar to the status quo-ante".

"When Hariri's plane landed in Riyadh [on his subseqent visit on the weekend of 4 November], he got the message immediately that something was wrong", a Hariri source told Reuters.

Cardinal Bechara El Rai, the head of Lebanon's Maronite sect, the country's largest Christian community, was expected to meet with Mr Hariri.

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