Lebanon’s Hariri leaves Saudi Arabia


MNA International Desk: Saad al-Hariri, who sparked a crisis by resigning as Lebanese prime minister on Nov. 4 during a visit to Saudi Arabia, is on his way to the airport, he said early on Saturday, before his flight from Riyadh to France.

Hariri’s abrupt resignation while he was in Saudi Arabia and his continued stay there caused fears over Lebanon’s stability. His visit to France with his family to meet President Emmanuel Macron is seen as part of a possible way out of the crisis.

However, Okab Saqr, a member of parliament for Hariri’s Future Movement, said that after Hariri’s visit to France, he would have ‘a small Arab tour’ before travelling to Beirut.

Macron, speaking in Sweden, said Hariri ‘intends to return to his country in the coming days, weeks’.

The crisis has thrust Lebanon into the bitter rivalry pitting Saudi Arabia and its allies against a bloc led by Iran, which includes the heavily armed Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah group.

In Lebanon, Hariri has long been an ally of Riyadh. His coalition government, formed in a political deal last year to end years of paralysis, includes Hezbollah.

President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, has called Hariri a Saudi hostage and refused to accept his resignation unless he returns to Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia and Hariri say his movements are not restricted. On Wednesday, Macron invited him to visit France along with his family, providing what French diplomats said might be a way to reduce tensions surrounding the crisis by demonstrating that Hariri could leave Saudi Arabia.