After announcing a shock resignation last November from Riyadh, blaming Iran for interfering Lebanese domestic affairs, Hariri defied the Saudis by withdrawing his decision to step down in December while voicing support for government coa-lition member Hezbollah.
“Hezbollah has been a member of this government. This is an inclusive government that has all the big political parties, and that brings political stability to the country,” Hariri told the Wall Street Journal. “My main goal is to preserve this political stability for the unity of the country.”
Lebanon’s Prime Ministers, who are Sunni as required by Lebanon’s constitution, have traditionally taken the Saudi line on regional issues. But Hariri, keen to avoid becoming embroiled in the regional spat between Iran and Saudi Arabia, said that his country will maintain ties with both countries and reject foreign meddling.
“We cannot accept interference from anyone in Lebanese politics,” Hariri said. “Our relationship with Iran – or with the Gulf – has to be the best relationship, but one that serves the national interests of Lebanon.”
Lebanese top officials did not believe Hariri resigned on his own but suggested that Saudi Arabia coerced him into stepping down. They also believed he was put under house arrest and limited in his movement.
The resignation brought the country at the forefront of the regional proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and rival Iran.
In his interview with the WSJ, the Lebanese Prime Minister also warned Israel against taking military action against Hezbollah, saying any such war would be counterproductive.