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World Lebanon Prime Minister Hariri's future on uncertain path

15:55  17 november  2017
15:55  17 november  2017 Source:   ap.org

EU, U.S. affirm Lebanon support, diverging from Saudi

  EU, U.S. affirm Lebanon support, diverging from Saudi The European Union on Wednesday affirmed support for Lebanon following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, echoing U.S. backing for the Beirut government which Saudi Arabia has accused of declaring war.Statements of support from EU ambassadors to Lebanon and the U.S. State Department on Tuesday struck a sharply different tone to Saudi Arabia, which has lumped Lebanon together with the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah as parties hostile to it.

BEIRUT (AP) — Saad Hariri has seen a lot in his 47 years. His father, Lebanon ' s charismatic leader and influential businessman Rafik Hariri , was assassinated in a 2005 bombing

In an exclusive interview with CNBC' s Hadley Gamble, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri discussed the country' s challenging economic situation, its place

FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2016 file photo, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, welcomes Christian leader Michel Aoun, right, after he announced his support for Aoun to be the Lebanese president, in Beirut, Lebanon. Hariri who resigned from Saudi Arabia nearly two weeks ago has been caught in the crossfire between the region’s two feuding powers -- Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. The 47-year-old who for years had tried to play a balancing act in Lebanon, with its delicate, sectarian-based political system, resigned in the most bizarre manner, throwing the country’s and his own political future into the unknown. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2016 file photo, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, welcomes Christian leader Michel Aoun, right, after he announced his support for Aoun to be the Lebanese president, in Beirut, Lebanon. Hariri who resigned from Saudi Arabia nearly two weeks ago has been caught in the crossfire between the region’s two feuding powers -- Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. The 47-year-old who for years had tried to play a balancing act in Lebanon, with its delicate, sectarian-based political system, resigned in the most bizarre manner, throwing the country’s and his own political future into the unknown. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

BEIRUT — Saad Hariri has seen a lot in his 47 years.

French president makes surprise Saudi visit

  French president makes surprise Saudi visit Emmanuel Macron arrives in Riyadh to discuss regional stability, days after Lebanon's PM resigned.This comes after Lebanese PM Saad Hariri resigned on Saturday while in Riyadh, saying he feared for his life.

Saad El-Din Rafik Al- Hariri (Arabic: سعد الدين رفيق الحريري‎; born 18 April 1970) is a Lebanese politician who has been the Prime Minister of Lebanon since December 2016.

The 2017 Lebanon –Saudi Arabia dispute began when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri abruptly announced his resignation while he was in Saudi Arabia on 4 November 2017. Shortly thereafter, the foreign relations between both countries and allied regional neighbors became increasingly strained.

His father, Lebanon's charismatic leader and influential businessman Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in a 2005 bombing that rocked the country and thrust the young man into a political career before he was ready.

He led an uprising that ended decades of Syrian military presence in Lebanon, and was later wanted by the government in Damascus for arming rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

He was ousted as prime minister by the militant group Hezbollah in 2011 while meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office; years later, he formed another unity government with the same group, which was implicated in his father's death.

But the most bizarre twist came two weeks ago, when he was summoned to Riyadh by his patrons, the Saudi royal family. The next day, on Nov. 4, he resigned in a broadcast on Saudi TV.

Lebanon: Saudi should clarify why Hariri hasn't returned

  Lebanon: Saudi should clarify why Hariri hasn't returned Lebanon's president called on Saudi Arabia Saturday to clarify the reasons why the country's prime minister has not returned home since his resignation last week, announced from the kingdom, as the United States and France expressed their support for Lebanon's sovereignty and stability amid heightening tensions between Beirut and Saudi Arabia. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon and shattered the relative peace maintained by its coalition government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri's stunning announcement Nov. 4 from the Saudi capital that he was resigning.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon said on Saturday that he had quit his post, blaming Iran for interference in Arab affairs and throwing his country, already awash with tensions and regional rivalries, into deeper uncertainty.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has returned to Lebanon . His plane landed in Beirut Tuesday night.

The man who has played a balancing act for years in Lebanon's delicate, sectarian-based political system was cast onto an unknown path, as was his country.

Hariri finds himself caught between the region's two feuding powers, the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, raising questions about the fate of the dynasty that has been the face of politics for decades in Lebanon.

"In many ways, Saad is a copy of Rafik Hariri, with the difference in circumstances," said Paula Yacoubian, the Future TV anchor who interviewed Hariri on Sunday in his residence in Saudi Arabia, where many Lebanese believe he is being held against his will.

His father was a self-made billionaire who amassed his construction fortune in Saudi Arabia and then helped rebuild a civil war-shattered Lebanon as prime minister. He was killed when his motorcade was struck by a truck bomb in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005, and four Hezbollah members are being tried in absentia by a U.N.-backed court for the killing.

Lebanon PM says he will return to his country soon

  Lebanon PM says he will return to his country soon Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Sunday he will return to his country "within days" amid a political crisis that erupted when he announced his sudden resignation on Nov. 4 in Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) BEIRUT — Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Sunday he will return to his country "within days" amid a political crisis that erupted when he announced his sudden resignat In a live interview shown on Future TV, Hariri said he had resigned to protect Lebanon from imminent danger, although he didn't specify who was threatening the country.

Saad Hariri has unexpectedly resigned as Lebanon ’ s prime minister , citing Iranian influence across the region and claiming he feared the same fate as his The timing and location of the announcement suggested more was at stake than the immediate future of Lebanon . Saudi Arabia, a Hariri patron

Speaking after talks with Emmanuel Macron, Saad Hariri says he will explain his sudden departure, which sparked political turmoil.

The bombing immediately thrust Saad Hariri into the spotlight — and the political novice had to learn fast.

With an international business degree from Georgetown University, he moved into his new role, but the shadow of his father was always there. For years during meetings, he kept a large portrait of his father sitting on an empty chair next to his. A pin of his father still adorns the lapel of his suits.

Like his father, he lives in fear of being assassinated, traveling around town in elaborate security convoys.

In his resignation speech from Riyadh, Hariri cited fears for his life as one reason for stepping down, in addition to blaming what he called meddling in the region by Iran and Hezbollah.

The resignation caught Lebanon by surprise, and many believed that Hariri, a dual Lebanese-Saudi national, was coerced by the Saudis. Lebanese President Michel Aoun refused to accept it until he returned home to Beirut.

In Sunday's interview of Hariri on Future TV, which is affiliated with his party, Yacoubian spent more than an hour trying to dispel speculation of coercion.

Lebanon's Hariri shackled by bigger outside forces

  Lebanon's Hariri shackled by bigger outside forces Nothing so encapsulated the political shackles in which Saad al-Hariri has operated as Lebanon's prime minister as the way he resigned in a televised statement made from Saudi Arabia.Nothing so encapsulated the political shackles in which Saad al-Hariri has operated as Lebanon's prime minister as the way he resigned in a televised statement made from Saudi Arabia.

A sad and weary Hariri was emotional at times in the broadcast, appearing to hold back tears and sparking sympathy for him. But the interview did little to ease suspicions and only increased calls for his return.

Yacoubian said later that Hariri clearly seemed to be under pressure as he finds himself in a tough spot.

"Hariri is a kind man and politics sometimes needs foxes. ... He is a good man, that's what he is. Maybe in politics you shouldn't be that good," she said.

The resignation, aiming to pressure coalition partner Hezbollah to stay out of regional affairs, instead has turned into a campaign for Hariri to return home and either formally resign or resume the job.

"If Hariri were a savvier politician, he could have used different words; he could have refused to resign, or insisted on doing so from Beirut," wrote Lebanon expert Thanassis Cambanis in the Atlantic.

His resignation appears to have caused cracks within the family and the Future Movement he heads, as rumors circulate about possible replacements.

In many ways, the soft-spoken Hariri has always been a stranger to Lebanon's intricate and sometimes violent politics.

Despite his wealth and sudden political fame, he has stayed humble, and comes across as affable and warm. At lunches with journalists, he is relaxed, but guarded, often receiving his own separate healthy menu of grilled chicken and vegetables, before lighting a long cigar over coffee and dessert. On social media, he often posts smiling selfies with journalists and politicians.

Lebanon's PM says he will return in next 2 days

  Lebanon's PM says he will return in next 2 days Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who plunged the country into crisis with his surprise resignation during a trip to Saudi Arabia, said in a tweet Tuesday that will return home in the next two days.Lebanon's foreign minister, meanwhile, said during a trip to Paris that his country may resort international law to determine Hariri's condition, suggesting he is being held against his will, if he doesn't return to Lebanon.

He ran in the annual Beirut Marathon and supported civil marriage, a popular cause stiffly rejected by conservative clergymen in Lebanon.

"I'm one of the people," Hariri said in the interview, affectionately thanking them for calling for his return. "I'm my father's son."

While he was always critical of Hezbollah and Iran, he has found a way to work with them.

In 2009, a Saudi and Syrian rapprochement after years of tension from the elder Hariri's assassination made it possible for the son to form a unity government. As part of easing strains, Saad Hariri had to meet Assad, whom he had accused of involvement in his father's killing. Yacoubian, who has interviewed him five times, said it was the only other time besides Sunday that she detected he was tense.

In his first term as prime minister, Hariri served for over a year, filled with political stress arising from investigations into his father's death, which at the time he blamed on the Syrian government.

In January 2010, Hezbollah ministers and their allies toppled Hariri's government by resigning from the national unity Cabinet, rendering him a lame duck just as he met with Obama in Washington.

After the demonstrations against Assad turned into an armed rebellion, Syria issued a warrant for Hariri's arrest in December 2011 on charges of providing weapons to the Sunni rebels.

For years, Hariri lived in self-imposed exile between Saudi Arabia and France, before he returned in 2016 to form a new unity government.

In an article in The New York Times in September 2016, months before taking office, Hariri urged Iran to stop meddling in Arab affairs. His rhetoric against Iran and Hezbollah was not much different from his defiant words in the Nov. 4 resignation from Saudi Arabia.

"Iran can be part of the solution. But it must accept the extended Arab hand, led by Saudi Arabia, for normalized, neighborly relations, allowing Sunni Arabs to get down to the real task of getting rid of extremism," Hariri wrote.

In December 2016, another tacit agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran made Hariri prime minister again in a coalition government that included Hezbollah. It was yet another uneasy partnership that seemed to teeter on the edge of collapse, particularly as Hezbollah became more assertive in the region.

Still, in the days before he resigned, Hariri was enthusiastic about economic progress, tweeting and posting about parliamentary elections expected in the spring, and stressing the need for national unity above all else.

Hariri's last meeting in Lebanon before he was summoned to Saudi Arabia was with an adviser to Iran's supreme leader. Speculation has been rife that the meeting was the reason for Riyadh's surprise summoning. In the interview with Yacoubian, Hariri said he told Ali Akbar Velayati to end Iran's meddling in Arab affairs.

His comment prompted a back and forth with Velayati. What is clear is that Hariri got caught between the region's two feuding powers.

Hariri "wanted to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and we welcomed it," Velayati said.

Lebanon's PM Hariri says he will be in Beirut within days .
Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said he will return home in the coming days from where he will declare a political stance for the first time since making a strange resignation announcement from Saudi Arabia that unleashed fears of a crisis in Lebanon. Hariri and his family met Saturday with French President Emmanuel Macron, who invited the Lebanese leader to Paris to dispel fears that he was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will. Macron is seeking to calm tensions and avert a proxy conflict between Saudi-backed and Iranian-backed camps in Lebanon.

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