Hariri plans to return to Lebanon, warns of sanctions over Hezbollah


Hariri plans to return to Lebanon, warns of sanctions over Hezbollah

It comes as the leader of the Iran backed group accused Riyadh of detaining Lebanon's prime minister Saad al-Hariri and forcing him to resign.

Representatives of the Lebanese government have demanded that Hariri be returned from Saudi Arabia as rumors that he has been arrested continue to circulate.

His remarks came during a television interview with Lebanese journalist Paula Yacoubian in Riyadh, where Mr Hariri has remained since his resignation.

Hariri told aides his trip to Riyadh would be quick.

Hariri announced on November 4 in a televised statement from Riyadh that he would be stepping down from the post, sending shock waves through Lebanese politics. The former prime minister said he would return to Lebanon within days and that he may withdraw his resignation if Lebanon's political factions can agree to stop interfering in regional affairs - a reference to Hizbollah's role in the Syrian war and its alleged role in the war in Yemen. "There was no one waiting for him".

The premier has yet to return to Lebanon and rumours have swirled that he is being held in Saudi Arabia against his will.

"I am freely in the Kingdom, and if I want to travel tomorrow, I will travel".

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said on Sunday that he believed Hariri was being held against his will with his movements restricted within the Saudi Capital. "I warned many times but I did not get any response", Mr Hariri said.

Aoun had refused to accept Hariri's resignation unless he tenders it in person in Lebanon.

"We can not say that we apply disassociation and at the same time see a group interfering in Yemen, or be dragged to relations with the Syrian regime, which I will not do".

Initially there was speculation Hariri was a target of that campaign because of his family's business interests.

Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has made a public address accusing Saudi Arabia of detaining Mr Hariri against his will.

The crisis in Lebanon has analysts scratching their heads, and some fear it could lead to further war in the region.

"I speak here about facts, not analysis".

Senior administration officials said the warning was directed at Saudi Arabia as well as at Iran and Hezbollah. The announcement threw Lebanon into confusion and raised fears of war.

What's to come largely depends on Saudi Arabia's next move - and will have bigger implications for the region.

The resignation of the Saudi-allied Hariri's and its aftermath have put Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Shi'ite-led Iran and its regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.