Hariri warns of Arab sanc­tions

Aoun wel­comes prom­ise to re­turn to af­firm res­ig­na­tion

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

Le­banese Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun said on Mon­day he was pleased by Saad al-Hariri’s com­ment that he would re­turn to Le­banon soon to dis­cuss his res­ig­na­tion as prime min­is­ter, pres­i­den­tial palace sources said.

In sep­a­rate re­marks re­layed by vis­i­tors to him, Aoun gave a pos­i­tive assess­ment of com­ments Hariri made in an in­ter­view on Sun­day, his first one since his shock de­ci­sion to quit de­liv­ered from Riyadh on Novem­ber 4.

“Pres­i­dent Aoun ex­pressed his plea­sure at Hariri’s an­nounce­ment of his re­turn to Le­banon soon,” a source said. “Re­scind­ing his res­ig­na­tion is one of his op­tions,” Aoun was quoted as say­ing of Hariri.

Hariri’s res­ig­na­tion has pitched Le­banon into a deep po­lit­i­cal cri­sis and shaken con­fi­dence in its heav­ily in­debted state.

The move – which has still to be ac­cepted by Aoun – thrust Le­banon back into the fore­front of the re­gional tus­sle be­tween Sunni-led Saudi Ara­bia and the Shi’ite Is­lamist gov­ern­ment of Iran.

Saudi-al­lied Hariri said in the in­ter­view he would re­turn to Le­banon within days, and he held out the pos­si­bil­ity he could re­scind his res­ig­na­tion if Iran-backed Hezbol­lah agreed to stay out of re­gional con­flicts such as Ye­men.

Hezbol­lah is part of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Hariri, who re­signed say­ing that he feared as­sas­si­na­tion. His fa­ther Rafic Hariri, who was also a prime min­is­ter, was as­sas­si­nated in 2005.

Hariri also ac­cused Iran and Hezbol­lah of sow­ing strife in the Arab world.

Le­banese gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and se­nior sources close to Hariri be­lieve Saudi Ara­bia co­erced him into quit­ting and has put him un­der ef­fec­tive house ar­rest since he flew to Saudi Ara­bia on Novem­ber 3.

Saudi Ara­bia de­nies this, and Hariri said dur­ing his in­ter­view on Sun­day that he was a free man.

Riyadh sub­se­quently ac­cused Le­banon of declar­ing war on it be­cause of Hezbol­lah.

The United States and other Western pow­ers have how­ever struck a dif­fer­ent tone to Riyadh, af­firm­ing their back­ing for Hariri and the Le­banese state even though they too re­gard Hezbol­lah as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

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.

Prior to Hariri’s in­ter­view, Aoun had also said that the re­stric­tions on his free­dom threw doubt on any­thing Hariri had said or would say, and that his state­ments could not be con­sid­ered a state­ment of free will.

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