Hariri’s Saudi Visit Linked to Lebanon Polls: Analyst
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s visit to Saudi Arabia has something to do with the upcoming general election in Lebanon, a political analyst said, adding that Riyadh and Washington are worried about results of the polls.
In an interview with Tasnim, Anis Naqash, a Lebanese political expert, said Saudi Arabia is trying to mend ties with Hariri following a failed plan last year to force him to resign.
Lebanon’s general election in May is a source of concern for the US and Saudi Arabia, which are seeking to compromise with Hariri and Samir Geagea’s party ahead of the election, he added.
Saudi Arabia is looking for a role in Lebanon after its failure to force Hariri to adopt tough stances against Hezbollah by keeping him inside the kingdom, Naqash said.
Hariri travelled to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in his first visit since his abrupt -and later rescinded- resignation from Riyadh in November.
The state visit by Hariri, who also has Saudi citizenship, comes in advance of parliamentary election in Lebanon, and of major donor conferences aimed at supporting Lebanon.
Hariri last travelled to the kingdom on November 3 and unexpectedly resigned in a televised statement a day later.
His address from his home in Riyadh sparked outrage in Lebanon over what was publicly perceived as the abduction of a sovereign state’s prime minister by another country.
The move put Saudi-Lebanese relations to the test with President Michel Aoun refusing to accept the resignation and calling on authorities in Riyadh to release his country’s “detained” prime minister.
Hariri, 47, ultimately returned to Beirut weeks later after France’s mediation efforts, and withdrew his resignation.