Saad Hariri said that on returning to Lebanon, he would confirm his ‘resignation’ in accordance with the country’s constitution. But how on earth did he think he could ‘shock’ Lebanon by resigning in the Saudi capital of Riyadh?
A weird and highly constrained “interview” on his personally owned television channel by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was made under Saudi duress in Riyadh. The “interview”, in which Hariri – who claimed he had resigned last week and who on Sunday said he has “complete freedom” in Saudi Arabia but wanted to “look after his family as well” – was made after the Saudis declined to invite a Beirut-based Future TV crew to Saudi Arabia and insisted that their own television personnel filmed him.
Thus when he was questioned by popular Lebanese presenter Paula Yakoubian in the presence of Future’s Lebanese director of news Nadim Koteich in Riyadh, the Saudis were in a position to cut him off or edit Hariri’s words if he strayed away from what was very possibly a vetted script. For the “interview” itself reflected not the views which Hariri has persistently made public at home in Lebanon but those of the Saudi government under the effective leadership of the increasingly aberrant Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.
Hariri, who appeared unsmiling on Future television (he always smiles when he is interviewed) said he wrote his own resignation speech more than a week ago – although not a single Lebanese political party believes this – and would return to Lebanon “very soon” (in a matter of days, he claimed) adding the extremely odd remark that “I wanted to make a positive shock [sic] for the Lebanese people so the people know how dangerous is the situation we are in.” He said that on returning to Lebanon, he would confirm his “resignation” in accordance with the country’s constitution. But how on earth did he think he could “shock” Lebanon by resigning in the Saudi capital of Riyadh?