Le­banon PM re­vokes res­ig­na­tion after deal

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - WORLD NEWS - ZEINA KARAM

BEIRUT — Le­banese Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri re­voked his res­ig­na­tion Tues­day fol­low­ing a con­sen­sus deal reached with ri­val po­lit­i­cal par­ties, mark­ing an end to one of the most bizarre in­ter­ludes in Le­banese pol­i­tics.

The an­nounce­ment came at the end of the first cab­i­net meet­ing to be held since Le­banon was thrown into a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis fol­low­ing Hariri’s stun­ning move a month ago.

Hariri an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion in a Nov. 4 tele­vised broad­cast from Saudi Ara­bia, cit­ing the Ira­nian-backed Hezbol­lah’s med­dling in re­gional af­fairs as a main rea­son for step­ping down. The na­ture of the an­nounce­ment raised sus­pi­cions that it was or­ches­trated by Saudi Ara­bia, his main backer, and that he was be­ing held against his will, prompt­ing calls for his re­lease from top Le­banese of­fi­cials.

The move thrust Le­banon to the fore­front of the re­gional ri­valry be­tween Saudi Ara­bia and Iran and shat­tered the na­tional unity govern­ment that Hariri headed.

Fol­low­ing French diplo­macy that fa­cil­i­tated Hariri’s de­par­ture from Saudi Ara­bia to Paris for a brief visit, he re­turned to Le­banon on Nov. 21 and put the res­ig­na­tion on hold to al­low for con­sul­ta­tions.

The Le­banese have ral­lied around Hariri in what be­came an em­bar­rass­ment for Saudi Ara­bia.

Tues­day’s cab­i­net meet­ing, at­tended by Hariri, en­dorsed a state­ment that calls on ri­val Le­banese groups to dis­tance them­selves from re­gional con­flicts and the in­ter­nal af­fairs of Arab coun­tries.

“The Le­banese govern­ment, through all its po­lit­i­cal com­po­nents, dis­as­so­ci­ates it­self from any con­flicts or wars, as well as the in­ter­nal af­fairs of Arab coun­tries to pro­tect Le­banon’s po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­la­tions with its Arab brothers,” Hariri said.

He then said he had re­scinded his res­ig­na­tion.

It is not clear what, if any­thing, the agree­ment en­tails beyond a sup­posed com­mit­ment to tone down in­flam­ma­tory rhetoric to­ward re­gional states from all sides.

Hariri has com­plained about the Shi­ite mil­i­tant Hezbol­lah group’s med­dling in re­gional af­fairs, in­clud­ing the af­fairs of Gulf coun­tries — a ref­er­ence to Ye­men, where Saudi Ara­bia is fight­ing Shi­ite rebels sup­ported by Iran.

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