The move is aimed to dissuade “hostage” notion
The controversy surrounding Lebanese PM Saad Hariri’s freedom in Saudi Arabia seems to be staged as defused. Hariri arrived in Paris at 0700 hrs on Saturday after leaving Riyadh in the wee hours, within eight days of French President’s surprise visit to Saudi Arabia.
Hariri travelled in his private jet along with his family. There are speculations that immediately after Saudi Arabian King Salman transfer’s his powers to Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman sometime soon, Saudi Arabia may start war against Lebanon with active Israeli cooperation. Israel has already expressed its readiness to work with the kingdom.
Before leaving Riyadh, Hariri, who rarely posts his tweet in English language, singled out German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
To say that I am held up in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to leave the country is a lie. I am on the way to the airport Mr. Sigmar Gabriel.— Saad Hariri (@saadhariri) November 17, 2017
Hariri met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and other senior officials before heading to the airport. This was disclosed by Hariri’s political party Future Movement and two different Lebanese TV stations.
Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron, who had suddenly visited Saudi Arabia on November 10, invited Hariri and his family “to spend some time” in Paris. He clarified that he was not offering him political “exile”.
After meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Macron said that the two agreed that Hariri “be invited for several days to France” and pledged to help Lebanon’s “independence and autonomy”.
French foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian, after meeting Saudi authorities in Riyadh told on Thursday that Hariri will be welcomed “as a friend”. Drian later arrived in Delhi on Friday for a two day visit.
According to Bloomberg, French officials have not disclosed about the duration of Hariri’s stay in the country. President Macron and Saad Hariri are scheduled to meet at noon for talks, following which the visiting leader and his family will have lunch at the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the President.
However, French officials have said that they still consider Hariri as Lebanon’s PM as President Michel Aoun has rejected his resignation as it must be handed over on Lebanese soil.
Lebanese President Aoun had earlier called Hariri as Saudi “hostage” and said that the developments are “an act of aggression against us and our independence”. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has accused Saudi Arabia for interfering in Lebanese affairs.
According to Reuters, Saad Harir received an “invitation” from Riyadh through a phone call on November 3. He immediately obeyed Riyadh’s instruction and reached the Kingdom without taking accompanying aide or high ranking official very next day. Immediately after touching down at Riyadh airport Hariri was shocked to see nobody from royal family to receive. Instead, his mobile was confiscated.
Later in the evening, on November 4, Hariri announced his resignation through live broadcast on Kingdom’s official Ar-Arabia TV and expressed his fear of a plot for his assassination and criticised Hezbollah for interfering in the regional conflicts and government of Iran for its political meddling.
Hezbollah has played important role in fight against Daesh (IS) terrorists along with Syrian army and Iranian military advisors in the recent months.
Hariri, later got himself interviewed by his own party’s mouthpiece Future TV in Riyadh and declared his intention to return to Lebanon in a “few days”. His party sources have disclosed that Hariri may visit some other European and Arab countries before returning to Beirut.
The Saudi authorities have denied accusations of holding Hariri against his will.
Meanwhile, a diplomatic controversy has erupted between Saudi Arabia and Germany after their Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel accused Riyadh of holding Hariri hostage while meeting Lebanese President in Beirut.
According to Gulf News, Saudi Arabia’s foreign Ministry official has said that Kingdom has recalled its ambassador to Germany in protest over “incorrect” remarks by German foreign Minister during a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart.
The statement issued by Foreign Ministry in Riyadh says, “Such remarks provoke the surprise and disapproval of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which considers them as aimless and based on false information that would not help bringing about stability in the region.”
The statement further said, “Saudi Arabia has decided to recall its ambassador to Germany for consultations and will give the German ambassador in the kingdom a letter protesting these unfortunate and unjustified statements.”
The recent developments have indicated that France and Germany have taken different stance on Lebanese situation. France has welcomed Hariri in Paris with full coordination with Riyadh while Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador from Germany.