French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Saudi Arabia late on Thursday to discuss the Lebanon crisis.
The question is whether this crisis is also becoming a hostage situation.
Last Saturday, November 4, the Saudi-backed Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, resigned protesting the influence of the Teheran-backed Hezbollah militia in government.
Saad Hariri has not since returned from Riyadh.
The Saudi foreign minister Abel al-Jubeir has warned that Lebanon will be dealt with as a hostile state due to Hezbollah’s participation in government. Riyadh claims that Hezbollah fired an Iranian missile from Yemen in what has been called a “direct military aggression.” Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have called on their citizens to leave Lebanon.
On Thursday, Hariri’s political party demanded the return of the former prime minister to Lebanon, hinting that he is, in fact, a captive of Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has made statements to the same effect. The statement issued still refers to Hariri as a ‘’national leader” and “prime minister.’
Hariri’s office in Lebanon is offering some reassurance, saying he met French, British, EU, and US diplomats in Riyadh.
President Macron denied on Thursday that France has been asked to extend asylum to Saad Hariri.
Earlier on Thursday, Macron said that there is a need to reach an agreement with Teheran over it ballistic missiles development programme to complement the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. However, he vowed to honour the deal.
Hezbollah has been represented in Lebanon’s parliament since 1992 and its militia is bigger than the Lebanese Army. The Shi’a movement maintains a privileged relationship with the Assad regime and Teheran.