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Q & A How Lebanon's plunge into political crisis has unfolded

Europe
11.11.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Cairo (dpa) - Leading Lebanese politician Saad Hariri last week announced his surprise resignation as prime minister while in Saudi Arabia, sparking a crisis at home and in the region.

The following are answers to questions about the political turmoil that has raised the spectre of war.

Q: How did it all start?

A: On November 4, Hariri announced his resignation in a television broadcast aired from Saudi Arabia, saying his life was in danger.

The 47-year-old Sunni Muslim also lashed out at the Shiite Hezbollah movement, a powerful political and military force in Lebanon.

Hariri also took on Saudi-rival Iran, accusing them of fomenting unrest in the Arab region. Hariri, who holds dual Lebanese and Saudi citizenship, later held separate meetings with foreign diplomats in Riyadh amid rumours he is being held there against his will.

Q: What are the reactions in Lebanon?

A: Hariri‘s resignation sent shockwaves in Lebanon, provoking fears that the small country is being manipulated in a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. 

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said circumstances around Hariri‘s resignation and his stay in Saudi Arabia need to be clarified. Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah, has not yet accepted Hariri‘s resignation. Hariri‘s Future Movement parliamentary bloc urged him to return to Lebanon.

Q: How did Hezbollah and Iran react?

A: Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Hariri was forced to resign by Saudi Arabia whom he also accused of detaining him. Nasrallah‘s accusations have fuelled a war of words with the Saudis.

Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia and a backer of Hezbollah, denied interference in Lebanon‘s internal affairs. Tehran said Hariri‘s resignation and his statements were "regrettable."

Q: Why would Saudi Arabia want to remove Hariri?

A: Some experts say that Hariri, an ally of Saudi Arabia, has fallen from Riyadh‘s grace for his alleged failure to curb the clout of Hezbollah, which is part of his governing coalition.

According to their speculation, by removing Hariri, Riyadh wants to trap Hezbollah into displaying its full power as the key player in Lebanon and thus provoking neighbouring Israel, a sworn foe of both Hezbollah and Iran, into a new confrontation. Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating war in 2006.

Q: How does Israel view the crisis?

A: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Hariri‘s resignation and his remarks were a "wake-up call" to the international community to act against Iran.

Q: How have the Saudis handled the fallout?

A: On November 6, Saudi King Salman was seen in footage meeting with Hariri in Riyadh. Hariri also made a short trip to the United Arab Emirates and returned to Riyadh. Saudi officials denied claims Hariri is under house arrest, but did not say why he would not return home. 

Saudi Arabia and other allied Gulf countries have advised their nationals against travelling to Lebanon, in a hard blow to the country‘s economy already strained by the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

 

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