Saad Hariri withdraws resignation after cabinet meeting

Lebanese prime minister revokes resignation after cabinet voted to remain out of regional conflicts.

    Prime Minister Saad Hariri has revoked his resignation after Lebanon's cabinet voted to affirm its disengagement from conflicts in the Arab world.

    Hariri suddenly announced his resignation on November 4 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital, citing "threats" against his life, the political stance of rival political party and armed group Hezbollah, and rising Iranian influence in Lebanon.

    Without explanation, he didn't return to Lebanon for three weeks.

    "The government affirms its commitment to staying out of regional conflicts," Hariri said on Tuesday after rescinding his resignation.


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    The prime minister along with his family were reportedly held under house arrest in Riyadh. Hariri did not leave Riyadh until November 19, when he flew to Cairo to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

    Hariri returned to Lebanon later that day - the eve of Lebanon's independence day - after nearly three weeks in Saudi Arabia.

    The surprise resignation came amid a crackdown on "corruption" in Saudi Arabia, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    Nearly a dozen princes and some of the country's most prominent businessmen and officials were detained in early November.

    Bin Salman is also locked in a conflict for regional hegemony with Iran, whose influence has been on the rise in the Arab world.

    Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria are on the winning side of years-long conflicts against Saudi-backed armed groups. Hezbollah has been instrumental in assisting these forces.

    "Hariri demanded that Lebanon renew its commitment to the so-called disassociation policy. The cabinet endorsed that policy" saying Lebanon will not interfere "in Arab affairs", Al Jazeera correspondent Leila Khodr said on Tuesday.

    However, there is still the question of "guarantees", Khodri continued. 

    Hezbollah agreed to the disassociation policy, promising to remove its fighters from Iraq once the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is declared over.

    Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, promised their fighters would be removed from other neighbouring countries once ISIL was defeated.

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    For now, these guarantees are enough to end Lebanon's uncertainty. 

    "Clearly the political crisis is over. The cabinet met and it's back in business and this country - which found itself in the middle of a Saudi-Iranian rivalry" is back to the political status quo before Hariri's resignation, Khodr said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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