Lebanese President Considers Arrest of Premier as an Act of Hostility
Nov 16 2017
Lebanon's Christian Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai met on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia with Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon's prime minister from Riyadh on November 4, according to Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV.
Before departing to Saudi Arabia Rai said the return of Hariri from Saudi Arabia was essential for Lebanon's stability.
After Hariri's resignation, Saudi Arabia accused the Lebanese government of declaring war on it because of Hezbollah's pivotal role in Lebanese politics.
In his first media appearance since he stepped down, Hariri said on Sunday that he had freedom of movement and would return to Lebanon in the coming days. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has refused to accept his premier's resignation and on Wednesday said Hariri was being detained by Saudi authorities.
The political crisis has thrust tiny Lebanon to the forefront of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran being played out on battlefields from Syria to Yemen.
Aoun said the Saudis were also holding family members of Hariri, adding: "We have not previously asked for their return, but we have confirmed that [his family] is also detained and family members are being searched as they enter and leave the house." .
"It is not possible for us to make a decision about this resignation from overseas".
At a meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil for talks in Brussels on Tuesday, Mogherini stressed the European Union's support for Lebanon's "stability, unity, integrity and sovereignty", according to a statement from her office.
However, he has insisted he is free and plans to return home in "two or three days".
However, Riyadh's Western allies have struck a tone different from that of Saudi Arabia, appearing to throw their weight behind both Hariri and the Lebanese state, whose army is a major recipient of USA aid.
Speculation has swirled around Hariri's prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia since the announcement. Saudi Arabia is seeking to impose its will on the Lebanese government.
In recent days, several Lebanese officials reported that the prime minister is being held against his will in the Saudi kingdom, although Hariri himself denied it during an interview and said he would return soon.