Hariri’s Anti-Iran Stance Aimed at Appeasing Saudis

Hariri’s Anti-Iran Stance Aimed at Appeasing SaudisHariri’s Anti-Iran Stance Aimed at Appeasing Saudis

A parliamentarian believes Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri is under Saudi pressure to take positions he does not believe in, citing his latest remarks targeting Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah on Monday.

Morteza Saffari Natanzi made the statement in a talk with ICANA on the same day, opposing Hariri's remarks in an interview with French broadcaster CNews alleging the interference of Iran and Hezbollah in the affairs of Arab countries.

The lawmaker said Hariri, a dual Lebanese-Saudi national, is apparently trying to appease his long-time patrons in the Saudi monarchy.

"The Lebanese premier is trying to keep Saudis satisfied, but this does mean he really believes in what he says," said Saffari who is a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

The lawmaker said Hariri has been friendly toward Iran in closed-door meetings, in contrast with his current anti-Iran positions.

"Hariri's stance in private conversations with Iranian diplomats is in stark contrast with what he is saying now," said Saffari, himself a former diplomat.

On Nov. 4, Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address from Riyadh, accusing Iran and its ally Hezbollah of sowing "sedition" in the region.

The surprise announcement, which shocked the Lebanese nation and plunged the country into political uncertainty, drew strong reactions from the international community, notably Europeans. Shortly afterwards, Lebanese President Michel Aoun accused Riyadh of kidnapping him, saying Hariri was forced to resign.

The controversy triggered an intervention by France, which led to Hariri's return to Beirut last week.

Speaking with CNews, Hariri said he was still in office and had put his resignation on hold at Aoun's request in favor of national dialogue.

Hariri said he would keep to himself what happened in Saudi Arabia, refusing to divulge details. The Lebanese premier said he would resign if Hezbollah refuses to accept a "neutral" policy and stay out of regional conflicts.

"I don't want a political party in my government that interferes in Arab countries," he contended.

"Lebanon cannot resolve a question like Hezbollah which is in Syria, Iraq, everywhere because of Iran. The interference of Iran affects us all. If we want a policy that is good for the region, we shouldn't be interfering."

The Hezbollah movement was founded in 1982, following the Israeli invasion of the Arab country that led to the occupation of Lebanese capital Beirut.

In 2000, Hezbollah forces managed to force the withdrawal of Israeli troops from south Lebanon. The group was designated by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council as a terrorist entity in 2016, following its contribution to anti-terror operations of the Syrian Army.

Hariri has extensive business interests in Saudi Arabia that, along with a few Arab states, supplied arms to militias attempting for years to bring about regime change in Syria. These militias have failed to achieve any gains in Syria.


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