Lebanon marathon runners race in solidarity for Hariri

Mohammed bin Salman

Missing Lebanese PM test case of Saudi Arabia's emboldened new foreign policy

Saad Hariri announced his shock resignation in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyad, sparking fears he was being held under duress. The prime minister has not returned to Lebanon since.

The resignation also comes less than a month after he announced plans to join a coalition government with Hezbollah.

He repeatedly said he was ready to die for Lebanon — his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was killed by a auto bomb in Beirut in 2005 — but he added that he didn't want his children to go through that kind of ordeal.

"I am not against Hezbollah as a party, I have a problem with Hezbollah destroying the country", Hariri said during the interview.

Top Lebanese government officials and senior sources close to Hariri believe Saudi Arabia coerced Hariri into resigning and has put him under effective house arrest since he flew to Saudi Arabia over a week ago. He said he would return to Lebanon "in days".

"I have resigned. I am going to Lebanon very soon and I will resign in the constitutional manner", he said in the TV interview.

"Whatever he chooses, we are with him".

Earlier Sunday, thousands of people attending Lebanon's annual marathon used the event to urge Hariri to return home.

El-Rai heads the Maronite sect, Lebanon's largest Christian community and the Middle East's largest Catholic church, which enjoys wide influence in the country. "They (the Lebanese) will not rest until he returns so that life returns to normal".

"We are in the eye of the storm", he said. He said Hezbollah has not kept up its end of the deal. Hezbollah and the Houthis deny that the Lebanese group is carrying out anti-Saudi activities in Yemen. Then, when an natural disaster was reported in Iraq and Iran, she referenced it, telling Hariri it was to make sure people believed the interview was live.

The US and France have noted the diplomatic anomaly, expressing their support for Hariri and for Lebanon's sovereignty as tensions have risen between Beirut and Riyadh.

"We are preoccupied by the situation in Lebanon. we are worried about its stability, we are worried about its integrity, we are worried about non-interference", Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

"We are anxious about its stability, we are anxious about its integrity", Le Drian said.

On November 12, Hariri broke his silence on his resignation, saying he is "completely free" and not being held under some form of duress by his Saudi patrons.

"The Saudis have gone too far this time". He repeatedly drank water, finishing his glass and asking for more. He pleaded with her to finish the questioning after an hour has passed.

"Lebanon's issues are related to the Lebanese themselves and we will not interfere in Lebanon's issues and based on our principled policies, we never interfere in other countries' internal affairs", Qassemi told reporters in his weekly press conference in Tehran on Monday.

Asked why Hariri was wearing the same suit for three days, he said: "I said I'm not responsible for his closet". Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Iran, the predominant Shia power, are long-standing rivals based as much in geostrategic interests as religious differences. According to the memo, Saudi Arabia also decried what it described as "sabotage" and "terrorism" over a pipeline fire in Bahrain on Friday that temporarily halted oil supplies from its territory. "He is always welcome there and he will continue to be welcome there".

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