Hariri, Promising Return to Lebanon ‘Very Soon’ Says, “Iran Must Stop Meddling in the Affairs of Arab Countries”

On November 4th, in Riyadh, Hariri resigned over Iran’s influence in Lebanon, and said that he feared for his life. In his television interview he said the decision was his alone, and that the aim was to cause “a positive shock” to draw Lebanon’s attention to the dangers it was facing.

In the interview, broadcast from Riyadh, Hariri said that King Salman of Saudi Arabia treated him as his own son, and that he has the greatest respect for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He said the stability of Lebanon was important for both the king and the crown prince. He said that more than any other country, Saudi Arabia had helped Lebanon after the 2006 war with Israel. “Lebanon is a small country and it needs to be nonaligned, and Saudi Arabia always demands the best for Lebanon and stresses the importance of distancing itself. What would happen to 400,000 Lebanese in the Gulf if we join an axis?” he stressed.

“Iran must stop meddling in the affairs of Arab countries and we refuse to be taken by Iran to an axis against Arab countries. I will not be drawn to building relations with the Syrian regime, which does not want me. Things have to be straightened out to keep Lebanon away from regional conflicts.”

Hariri admitted that his agreement to a political settlement for a consensus government with Hezbollah ministers caused him to lose popularity with the Lebanese people, and said, “but the others did not live up to their commitment. I can’t be the only one making concessions while the others do whatever they want.”

Hariri said he had visited the UAE last week to explain to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, his position and the need to protect Lebanon, and described their meeting as “brotherly and positive.’’

He also denied any connection with the anti-corruption investigation in Saudi Arabia last week. “I wish we could fight corruption in Lebanon like Saudi Arabia is doing, but fighting corruption in Saudi Arabia is an internal affair that we have nothing to do with. I have not been subjected to any questioning in the context of the campaign in Saudi Arabia.”

His fears of being assassinated, like his father, Rafiq Hariri, were genuine, Hariri said. Still, he stated, “I am free to travel tomorrow if I want to. I will be back in Lebanon in a few days,” and added, “I don’t care about my life — what matters to me is that Lebanon stays safe.”