The US secretary of state has shed light on Washington’s stance toward the situation in Lebanon following the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Hariri, who is believed to be in Saudi Arabia.
“The United States supports the stability of Lebanon and is opposed to any actions that could threaten that stability. There is no legitimate place or role in Lebanon for any foreign forces… or armed elements other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state… The United States cautions against any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement posted on the Department of State website.
According to Tillerson, the US strongly supports Lebanon’s sovereingty and independence and urges all parties inside and outside the country to “respect the integrity and independence of Lebanon’s legitimate national institutions.”
The statement comes in the wake of the shock resignation of Saad Hariri, who was the Lebanese prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and took office again in November 2016, while being on his visit to Saudi Arabia. The former prime minister cited concerns he could be assassinated like his father and criticized the Lebanon-based Shiite Hezbollah paramilitary and political movement and accused Iran of alleged attempts to bring destruction to the region.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has reportedly told Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Lebanon that Hariri must return to the country, calling the circumstances of his resignation unacceptable.
Media reports citing a Lebanese official have suggested that Hariri’s freedom was “restricted” in Riyadh, however, later his office stated that the former prime minister had met a number of European and US diplomats.
Riyadh and Hariri aides have denied allegations that he is under house arrest, but haven’t denied that movements were being restricted.
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Most recently, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has stated that Saudi Arabia has “blatantly interfered” in Lebanon’s local issues by allegedly detaining Saad Hariri and putting him “under house arrest.”