Lebanon: Developments since Hariri resignation

Beirut: A timeline of developments since the surprise announcement by Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri from Saudi Arabia that he was resigning.
– Shock resignation –
On November 4, Hariri , in Saudi Arabia, announces his resignation, citing Iran’s “grip” on the country and threats to his life.
In a speech broadcast by the Al-Arabiya news network, he accuses Tehran of “creating a state within the state… to the extent that it gets the final say on how Lebanon’s affairs are run”.
Iran rejects what it says are “unfounded accusations”.
On November 5 Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement, says Hariri’s resignation had been “imposed” by Saudi Arabia.
“It is clear that the resignation was a Saudi decision that was imposed on Prime Minister Hariri,” he says in a televised address.
The resignation coincided with a mass purge of more than 200 Saudi princes, ministers and businessmen.
On November 7 Hariri, a day after meeting Saudi King Salman, visits Abu Dhabi. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan assures him of his country’s “support” for Lebanon “in the face of regional challenges and interferences in its affairs”.
– Hariri ‘detained’: Hezbollah –
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who steps up diplomatic contacts, expresses concern at Hariri’s fate.
On November 10 Nasrallah says in a televised speech Hariri was “detained” by Saudi Arabia, which was “inciting Israel” the sworn enemy of his Shiite movement, “to strike Lebanon”.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warns other countries against using Lebanon for “proxy conflicts”.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says Hariri is “free to move around”.
– Hariri says ‘free’ –
On November 12 President Aoun criticises “the obscure circumstances in which… Hariri is staying in Riyadh”.
On the same day , Hariri says he will “return to Lebanon very soon”.
“I am free here. If I want to travel tomorrow, I will,” Hariri says in an exclusive interview from Riyadh with his party’s Future TV.
– Maronite patriarch in Riyadh –
On November 14 the head of Lebanon’s Maronite church, Beshara Rai, in a historic visit to Saudi Arabia, meets King Salman and Hariri.
“I am convinced by the reasons for his resignation,” Rai says. “He will return to Lebanon as soon as possible.”
– France steps up initiatives –
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says Hariri must be able to return home from Saudi Arabia to end “a period of uncertainty”.
President Emmanuel Macron, who paid a flying visit on November 9 to Riyadh to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, reiterates his wish that “Hariri can go to Lebanon as he has announced,” during a meeting with Lebanon’s foreign minister Gebran Basil.
– Hariri detained: president –
On November 15 President Aoun accuses Saudi Arabia of having “detained” Hariri.
“We consider him to be held and detained… ,” he says.
Hariri replies on Twitter: “I want to repeat and confirm: I am totally, totally fine and I’ll come back, God willing, to beloved Lebanon like I promised you all. You’ll see.”
France says Foreign Minister Le Drian is to meet with Lebanon’s Hariri on Thursday during a visit to Saudi Arabia.
Agence France-Presse