Saad Hariri returns to Lebanon after shock resignation

Saul Bowman
November 22, 2017

Hariri is now in Paris, where he met French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday.

His surprise resignation in an announcement from Riyadh has sparked a political crisis in Lebanon as part of a regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran. He said that he will celebrate Lebanon's Independence Day on Wednesday, adding he would clarify his political position when he returns to Lebanon.

Hariri's mysterious decision to step down - which the president Michel Aoun has refused to accept while Hariri remains overseas - has raised fears over Lebanon's fragile democracy.

Hariri has sought to dispel speculation that Saudi Arabia asked him to resign because he would not confront Hezbollah, the Shiite group that plays a key role in Lebanon's fragile government but whose armed wing is fighting in Syria to support of fellow Iran ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Hariri arrived at Cairo International Airport, where he was received by Egypt's health minister, the Lebanese ambassador to Cairo and Egypt's ambassador to Beirut, his press office said.

Hariri arrived in a private jet from Cyprus on Tuesday night, after meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

A message on Hariri's Twitter account said the meeting would be followed by a dinner in his honour.

Egypt's presidency said Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, also spoke with Sisi to discuss developments.

The two leaders affirmed "the importance of preserving stability in Lebanon as well as prioritising national interests", while pledging to continue intensive coordination and consultation on the situation.

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