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Lebanese prime minister announces plan to return home

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 11/13/17, 09:33 am

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in his first televised interview since he announced his controversial resignation, said Sunday he will return to his country “very soon.” Hariri, who appeared tired and held back tears at one point, denied again that Saudi Arabia is holding him against his will. He said he stepped down to create a “positive shock” and draw attention to the danger of siding with Iran in regional conflicts. Hariri’s resignation, made during a trip to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 4, sparked a political crisis involving Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. The move caused suspicion about Saudi interference among Lebanon’s leaders. Saudi Arabia has increasingly accused Lebanon’s Hezbollah political party of supporting Iran, it’s regional rival. Hariri said the unity government he formed a year ago agreed not to interfere in regional affairs, but Hezbollah has not kept its end of the deal. He cited Hezbollah’s involvement in Yemen as a prime example. Saudi Arabia has accused both Hezbollah and Iran of supporting Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The Saudi-led coalition last week intercepted an Iranian-made missile dispatched by the Houthi rebels as it headed for Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Hariri said he will return to his country “within days,” and could even rescind his resignation, if Hezbollah commits to remain neutral in regional conflicts. “We are in the eye of the storm,” he said. Lebanese President Michel Aoun welcomed Hariri’s statements and said, “We will listen to him about all the circumstances, topics, and concerns that need treatment [once he returns].”

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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