Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Hariri plans to return to Lebanon, warns of sanctions over Hezbollah

Hariri plans to return to Lebanon, warns of sanctions over Hezbollah

Riyadh has for its part been accused of being behind last weekend's resignation of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, in a televised address from Riyadh.

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.

"We never meddle in other countries' internal affairs and the issue of Hariri ('s resignation) is up to the people of Lebanon".

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

On November 12, Hariri broke his silence on his resignation, saying he is "completely free" and not being held under some form of duress by his Saudi patrons.

The kingdom has been demanding that Hezbollah play no role in future government, accusing the group of supporting anti-Saudi Yemen rebels known as Houthis.

Hariri acknowledged in the interview that his resignation was unconventional, adding that he was ready to return to Lebanon to formally submit it and seek a settlement with Hezbollah.

"I have resigned. I am going to Lebanon very soon and I will resign in the constitutional manner", he said in the TV interview.

"I am not against Hezbollah as a party, I have a problem with Hezbollah destroying the country", Hariri said during the interview. Although he met with various ambassadors in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in the days that followed, no one in Lebanon was really sure what was happening to him.

"Whatever he chooses, we are with him".

On Twitter, some Lebanese shared clips of the video and wondered if the man in the back had some kind of message for Hariri, fueling reports that the prime minister was being held against his will. Hariri and the interviewer, Paula Yacoubian, realized the moment was caught on camera.

Joanne Hamza, a physical education teacher who wore a cap with a picture of Hariri on it, said he was missed at the race. His father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was killed by a vehicle bomb in Beirut in 2005. We want him to first come to Lebanon.

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

"I am freely in the Kingdom, and if I want to travel tomorrow, I will travel". Then, when an natural disaster was reported in Iraq and Iran, she referenced it, telling Hariri it was to make sure people believed the interview was live.

Ibrahim al-Masri, a 37-year-old Hariri supporter, said the Lebanese didn't know if it was Hariri's choice to stay in Saudi Arabia.

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