|Hezbollah accuses Saudi Arabia of detaining Hariri|
Saturday, 11 November 2017
Hezbollah accuses Saudi Arabia of detaining Hariri
BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday accused Saudi Arabia of detaining Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and of asking Israel to launch strikes.
Lebanon has often seen regional rivalries play out on its soil with disastrous consequences, Dawn reported.
The United States also warned against using the tiny country as a “venue for proxy conflicts” and the United Nations said it was “essential no new conflict erupt in the region”.
“The head of the Lebanese government is detained in Saudi Arabia, he is banned from returning to Lebanon until now,” Nasrallah said in a televised address, his second since Hariri resigned last week from the premiership in a statement made from Riyadh.
Hariri’s situation was not completely clear but calls, including from his Lebanese political rivals, mounted for Saudi Arabia to guarantee the prime minister’s freedom of movement.
The 47-year-old announced his resignation on Nov 4 in a surprise move that coincided with a sweeping purge of the Saudi elite over embezzlement accusations.
Hariri, who was born in Saudi Arabia, did not say when he would return to Lebanon, where President Michel Aoun has yet to formally accept his resignation.
In a statement issued on Friday after a meeting with the Saudi envoy to Lebanon, Aoun insisted Hariri should return to Lebanon, but did not elaborate on the premier’s current situation in Riyadh.
“President Aoun met Saudi charge d’affaires Walid Bukhari and informed him that the circumstances in which Mr. Hariri’s resignation took place were unacceptable,” the statement said.
The president “called for the return to Lebanon of the head of the government”.
Aoun, whose political ally Hezbollah is a fierce critic of Saudi Arabia, also “voiced his concern over what is being said” about Hariri’s current status in Saudi Arabia and demanded a “clarification”.
The United States’ top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, described Hariri as “a strong partner” and warned against “any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country”.
“The United States strongly supports the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Lebanon and of its political institutions” and opposes “any actions that could threaten that stability,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country has close ties with both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, made a surprise visit to Riyadh late Thursday after a trip to the United Arab Emirates.
Macron’s foreign minister said on French radio Friday he thought Hariri was “free to move around”, despite most of the Lebanese political class implying he was de facto under house arrest.
“He went to Abu Dhabi the day before President Macron’s visit (on Wednesday) so we think he’s free to move around,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
Nasrallah, whose party is the only organisation that did not disarm after the 1975-1990 civil war and now has an arsenal that outstrips Lebanon’s own armed forces, accused Saudi Arabia of seeking to incite conflict.
“The most dangerous thing is inciting Israel to strike Lebanon,” the Shia cleric said.
“I’m talking about information that Saudi Arabia has asked Israel to strike Lebanon.”