Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Iran says it does not interfere in Lebanese state affairs, says TV

Iran says it does not interfere in Lebanese state affairs, says TV

The premier has yet to return to Lebanon and rumours have swirled that he is being held in Saudi Arabia against his will.

Top Lebanese government officials and senior sources close to Hariri believe Saudi Arabia coerced Hariri into resigning and has put him under effective house arrest since he flew to Saudi Arabia over a week ago.

Hezbollah, which is both a militant group and a political force, has called Hariri's resignation illegal because it was done from afar.

Aoun said on Sunday that Hariri's movements were being restricted in Riyadh, the first time the Lebanese authorities had publicly declared their belief that Saudi Arabia is holding him against his will.

Cardinal Bechara el-Rai had planned his visit before Saad Hariri announced his resignation in Riyadh on November 4, throwing Lebanon into crisis after he accused Iran of meddling in his country in a vicious tirade that was uncharacteristic of the usually soft-spoken politician.

In his shock announcement, Hariri accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hizbollah of taking over his country and destabilising the broader region, saying he feared for his life.

On Friday, a spokesman for France's foreign ministry said: "We wish Mr Saad Hariri to have all his freedom of movement and to be fully able to play the essential role that is his in Lebanon". "Everyone may not agree with Hariri's politics, but he is our prime minister". Aoun has been convening high-level meetings with Lebanese politicians and foreign diplomats since Hariri stepped down.

Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has made a public address accusing Saudi Arabia of detaining Mr Hariri against his will.

Lebanon President Michel Aoun said before the interview that the "mysterious circumstances for Hariri's stay in the Saudi capital of Riyadh makes all his positions questionable and in doubt and not of his own volition". 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. Large billboards with pictures of Mr Hariri rose overhead, and a local TV station showed an hour-long profile and interview with Mr Hariri from a year ago.

"We can not say that we apply disassociation and at the same time see a group interfering in Yemen, or be dragged to relations with the Syrian regime, which I will not do".

"But in a sense, his absence has been unifying. This is somehow reassuring but we still want him with us". Western countries are looking on with alarm at the rising regional tension.

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