Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Lebanon marathon runners race in solidarity for Hariri

Missing Lebanese PM test case of Saudi Arabia's emboldened new foreign policy EU and UN: Saudi easing of Yemen blockade not enough
Sammy Stanley | 14 November, 2017, 10:56

In an exclusive interview from Riyadh with his party's Future TV, Hariri brushed aside rumors that he was under de facto house arrest in Saudi Arabia and hinted he could rescind his resignation if Hezbollah stopped getting involved in other conflicts outside of Lebanon.

He indicated the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese in the Gulf could be at risk, as well as trade, vital to the stability of the Lebanese economy.

His resignation was created to "cause a positive shock" in Lebanon, Hariri said, warning against what he said was Iranian interference that is ruining relations with other Arab countries.

Hariri's resignation, which has yet to be endorsed by Lebanese President Michel Aoun, came amid tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Cardinal Bechara el-Rai's visit, the first ever by a Maronite patriarch to the kingdom according to the cardinal, has taken on special significance since Hariri announced his resignation in a surprise statement broadcast from Riyadh on November 4.

The resignation and its aftermath have thrust Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran.

"We hope that conditions in Lebanon would not go towards further complications, violence and differences, and the conditions prevailing before (Hariri's) resignation would be restored, and the process which started in Lebanon and was highly positive and satisfactory to all groups would be materialized again", he said.

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Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that Hariri was "detained in Saudi Arabia" and "banned from returning to Lebanon". He vowed to return to Lebanon "within days".

"Whatever he chooses, we are with him".

Lebanon's prime minister Saad al-Hariri gestures during a press conference in parliament building at downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 9, 2017.

"The Lebanese people have been waiting for him (Hariri) to return because the situation has come to a stop and the Lebanese people have been unsettled", el-Rai said.

Hariri said he "can't be the only one making concessions while the others do whatever they want". "We will die for him", al-Masri said.

Just hours before Hariri's interview on Sunday, Aoun blasted the "obscure circumstances" around the resigned prime minister's stay in Riyadh. Hariri's family lives in Riyadh. 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.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of supplying the ballistic missile used in that attack, saying the missiles bore "Iranian markings".

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