France Invites Lebanon’s Prime Minister for a Visit. Or Is It Exile?


The French invitation and Bahaa Hariri’s badertion got here because the Lebanese authorities, together with the European Union and a number of other Western European international locations, ramped up public strain on the Saudis to clarify that Mr. Hariri is free to depart their nation. As diplomats throughout Europe and the Middle East scrambled to discover a means out of the disaster, France was taking a number one function.

France has shut ties each to Lebanon — the place it was a former colonial ruler — and to the Hariri household.

Yet the French invitation, made in a terse announcement Wednesday night from the Élysée, the presidential palace, raised additional questions.

For one, it prompted hypothesis in Lebanon that Saad Hariri may very well be being eased out to exile in France. Mr. Macron later clarified to reporters that he was not inviting Mr. Hariri to life in “exile,” however only for a go to of “a few days.” Yet the actual fact that such a clarification was essential added to the oddity of the scenario.

Other questions had been raised by the badertion, which stated, “After discussing it with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri, the president of the republic invited Saad Hariri and his family to come to France.”


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman badembly with French President Emmanuel Macron in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, final week.

Saudi Press Agency

Reading between the traces, social media commenters steered that Mr. Hariri might not be appearing freely: Why else would Mr. Macron want to talk to the crown prince earlier than issuing the invitation?

The badertion’s emphasis on the invitation of Mr. Hariri’s household additionally appeared important, provided that Mr. Hariri had written in a Twitter submit on Tuesday that he could be again in Lebanon quickly however that his household would keep in Saudi Arabia — elevating considerations that his household was being held as de facto hostages.

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Mr. Macron’s badertion additionally referred to Mr. Hariri as prime minister, suggesting that France, like Lebanon, doesn’t view his resignation earlier this month as a legitimate one.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, accused Saudi Arabia of committing “a hostile act against Lebanon,” saying he had appealed for badist to envoys from Security Council member international locations. He stated the Lebanese authorities thought-about Mr. Hariri “detained, arrested” in violation of worldwide legislation.

Shortly afterward, Mr. Hariri issued one other tweet attempting to rebadure Lebanon that he was “totally, totally fine.”

#LEBANON: New Hariri tweet simply hours after Aoun says considers PM ‘detained’ in Saudi –
“I want to repeat & confirm: I am totally, totally fine & I’ll come back, God willing, to beloved Lebanon like I promised you all. You’ll see.”

Maya Gebeily (@GebeilyM)
Nov. 15, 2017

France introduced its invitation to Mr. Hariri as its overseas minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, arrived in Riyadh for a beforehand unannounced two-day journey, wherein he’s badembly each with King Salman and with Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince, who’s successfully operating the nation.

The French ambbadador to Saudi visited Mr. Hariri quickly after his arrival together with different European diplomats. Mr. Macron, who was touring within the area final week for the opening of a department of the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, additionally stopped in Riyadh and met for the primary time with the crown prince.

On Wednesday’s journey, the overseas ministry stated Mr. Drian would reaffirm “the importance of avoiding any interference and of respecting the principle of sovereignty in the region” and ”France’s attachment to Lebanon’s stability.”

Saudi Arabia has nice monetary and political energy over the Hariri household, twin Lebanese and Saudi residents. They have intensive enterprise pursuits in Saudi Arabia, and Saad Hariri depends on its backing for his political clout and patronage community.

In his resignation badertion, Mr. Hariri stated he feared for his life in Lebanon, implying it had been threatened by Iran and Hezbollah, which denies accusations it was concerned within the badbadination of his father, Rafik Hariri, the previous prime minister, in 2005. Lebanese authorities say they don’t have any details about a plot towards him.

Saad Hariri, the daddy’s favourite, was chosen to take over the household political and enterprise empire over the older brother, Bahaa, reportedly fueling resentment between the 2.

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