Beijing En Route Danang
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri needs to return to his country before officially stepping down from his post. Tillerson’s remarks come amid growing questions about the premier’s sudden resignation last Saturday from Saudi Arabia where he was spending a supposedly routine trip.
“If he’s going to step down, as I understand it, he needs to go back to Lebanon to make that official,” Tillerson said en route from Chinese capital Beijing to Danang on Saturday, nearly a week after an anxious Hariri appeared on live TV to announce his intention to quit his job. “I‘m hopeful that if that is still his intent to leave that he’ll do that so that the government of Lebanon can function properly,” Tillerson added.
Although the Lebanese PM insisted in his resignation statement that the post was no longer tenable for him due to what he called intervention by the Lebanese Resistance Movement Hezbollah and Iran. Many people, including Lebanese officials, think he had been forced to do so.
PressTV-‘Saudi in open war on Lebanon with Hariri arrest’ The Hezbollah chief says Saudi Arabia has openly declared a war on Lebanon by keeping Prime Minister Saad Hariri under house arrest.
Two anonymous US officials familiar with the situation have also told Reuters that the Saudis had indeed “encouraged” Hariri to leave office. Tillerson, however, said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had assured him during a recent meeting that Hariri made the decision by himself. “As you probably know he [Hariri] is a dual citizen of Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. His family has been living in Saudi Arabia for quite some time by his choice, so the foreign minister assured me this was a decision taken solely by him,” Tillerson said.
Hariri arrested at Riyadh airport: In a new article published by The Independent on Thursday, renowned English journalist Robert Fisk claimed he had information that the resignation “is not all it seems,” specially since people, who know the PM, say his statement seemed forced and did not fit his style of speaking. Citing his sources, Fisk claims that Hariri was invited to Riyadh on Friday, while he was holding a cabinet meeting in Beirut. He was told over the phone that King Salman of Saudi Arabia wanted to see him, even though they had met a few days earlier.
Unaware of the fate that awaited him in Riyadh, Hariri had even scheduled meetings with officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Beirut on Monday. Once his jet touched down, Hariri found himself surrounded by policemen who came aboard his plane and confiscated his phone and those of his bodyguards, Fisk wrote.
Lebanon believes Saad Hariri is ‘being held’ in Saudi Arabia. A top Lebanese official calls for foreign pressure to secure the return of Hariri, who is believed to “held” in Saudi Arabia.The journalist wrote that the resignation statement shared a lot of similarities with recent speeches by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and US President Donald Trump, where they made similar claims against Iran and Hezbollah. The “cash-strapped” kingdom also owes Hariri’s “Oger” company as much as $9 billion, which is another possible contributing factor to Hariri’s strange resignation, according to Fisk. Meanwhile, Saudi officials claimed on Friday that a Saudi citizen had been kidnapped in Lebanon.—Agencies