Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that he would be back in Lebanon within days, explaining that he resigned to send a “positive shock.”
In a live interview with “Future TV,” from his residence in Riyadh, Hariri added that he might withdraw the resignation if Lebanon fully commits to the disassociation policy and if interferences in regional affairs stop.
Hariri said that his priority is Lebanon and that in the past period, he told everyone that what is happening is dangerous for Lebanon, which is being subjected to economic and other sanctions.
He mentioned Hezbollah’s and Iran’s intervention in Bahrain and Yemen and said that Lebanon should respect the disassociation policy.
He added: “I am proud of the consensus we reached, and I am not turning my back on it and want it to succeed. Political parties are allowed, but are they allowed to play a foreign role and make us Lebanese carry its weight?”
Commenting on reports that he is held hostage or assigned to residence, he said that his relation with Saudi Arabia is excellent, and that King Salman considers him like a son and Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman respects him.
Prime Minister Hariri said: “I want to save the country. I do not care about my life but I care about the country. Rafic Hariri died and his concern was the country. My basic mission is to preserve the country.”
He added that today “there is an assassination of the country and there is a security threat on me, but I want to protect Lebanon. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia loves Lebanon but it will not love Beirut more than Riyadh. If there is a party in Lebanon that is trying to impede the stability of the Gulf, will the Gulf countries love Beirut? Two or three months ago, there was a rumor that I would resign and I denied it. I resigned now and I will go back to Lebanon soon and will carry out the constitutional steps needed to formalize my resignation.”
He said: “All the Lebanese want to know what is happening. I know that I resigned in an unusual fashion but I had to take some measures in order to be able to return to Lebanon.”
Asked if he wrote the resignation statement, he said: “I wrote the statement because I wanted to send a positive shock. We cannot 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. I warned many times but I did not get any response. During the last two years, I did everything at my expense. There was a danger in Lebanon and I wanted to take additional steps and send a positive shock.”
Asked if the danger disappeared, Prime Minister Hariri said that the threat still exists, “the Syrian regime doesn’t want me. I always stood in the face of Daesh, Nusra and Qaeda, and in other times we faced and are still facing big challenges with Hezbollah. There are many parties who do not want Saad Hariri, this is why I am taking measures, making a safety net, reviewing my security. Also everyone knows that I experienced financial difficulties and now I am reviewing things. I am also increasing my security and we are talking with the Information Branch at the ISF and meetings will be held between my personal security and the army when I return to Lebanon.”
He added that he is free in the Kingdom and could leave tomorrow if he wants.
Hariri said: “My duty is to protect all the Lebanese but also I have to protect myself and keep the relations with the Arabs. I tell all the Lebanese parties that we have to protect Lebanon and its stability. Lebanon’s stability, democracy and freedom are important to the King and the Crown Prince.”
Asked about threats of economic sanctions against Lebanon, he said ‘threats don’t come from vacuum; there is a group in Lebanon that is doing things. When did Saudi Arabia threaten Lebanon?”
Asked about a new Saudi Arabia, he said: “Sure there is a new Saudi Arabia today and the difference is that there are Saudis who are dying and there is blame on Lebanon and a Lebanese group. Rockets are falling on the Saudi territories and I will not allow anyone to launch regional wars for regional calculations on Lebanon. I have a clear stance on this issue.”
Asked about reports in the Israeli press that Saudi Arabia is pushing Israel to hit Lebanon, he said: “Didn’t we learn from the Israeli games? Let us be logical, Saudi Arabia helped Lebanon during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon. There is a new Saudi Arabia that differs from the old one that didn’t suffer from Iranian interference in its affairs. Today the problem is that Iran is interfering in Arab affairs and Saudi Arabia said that it wants the best relations with Iran but it has to stop meddling in Arab countries.”
Asked if he will return to the country to submit his resignation he said: “I will return to the country because the Hariri house brings all the Lebanese together. I am willing to make sacrifices but under certain conditions, the others have to make sacrifices too. I lost on the popularity level when I made a first and a second initiative. When I make a compromise, I would like to preserve it and we should all preserve it. Is Lebanon’s high interest to sabotage our relations with the whole world or to preserve these relations? If we want stability in Lebanon, we have to preserve our relations with Arab, western and Asian countries. This is the ABC of politics and I submitted my resignation to launch a wake-up call.”
He added: “My weakness is the people and I thank all those who want Saad Hariri to return and we should think ‘Lebanon first.'”
As for the relation with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Hariri explained that “President Aoun adheres to the constitution and there are constitutional issues that should be done, and we should all respect the law and the constitution. President Aoun is right in thinking that I have to return to Lebanon and submit my resignation. I have an excellent relation with him and I am proud of it, and I will have a lengthy discussion with the President when I return to Lebanon. We should correct things to implement the disassociation policy that was approved in the ministerial statement.”
Asked how they will obtain the approval of Hezbollah on this issue, he said: “The President can play a role in this issue and I can also play a role but we should have a clear and honest dialogue. All I am saying is that I want to protect the Lebanese and I tell those who are asking me to return that I will return because there is hope of us being together.”
In response to another question, he said “Saudi Arabia never interfered in the Lebanese internal affairs. There were attempts to place Lebanon in axes. Didn’t Rohani say few weeks ago that what happens in Lebanon or Syria or Iraq or Yemen comes from an Iranian decision? What does this mean? As for my meeting with Velayati, I clearly talked about the unacceptable Iranian interferences in the Arab countries and that we cannot continue while Iran and a political party are interfering in the Arab countries. I tell Hezbollah that we support its political role. It is in our interest to unite for Lebanon’s sake. Saudi Arabia helps Lebanon economically and on the humanitarian level, but what did the others offer to Yemen and Syria?”
He continued: “Lebanon was liberated in 2000 and the Lebanese were united around the resistance and against Israel, and when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, Saudi Arabia helped us and it always said that Lebanon’s interest should be a priority and that we should implement the disassociation policy. We are in the eye of the storm, and we have Daesh, Nusra, Qaeda and the Syrian regime and we want to interfere in other places, why?”
He said “The positive shock was in the interest of Lebanon and the Lebanese people. There are between 300 to 400 thousand Lebanese living and working in the Gulf and others living in Europe. If we place ourselves in axes, what will happen to these Lebanese? I am responsible of them as a Prime Minister.”
He reiterated that he would go back to Lebanon and take all the constitutional steps regarding his resignation and then start negotiations with all the political parties. He added: “In order to withdraw the resignation, we should respect the disassociation policy and stop interfering in the region because Lebanon cannot afford it.”
Asked if he will be candidate to the presidency of the council of ministers he said “we have elections in May,” reiterating that he submitted his resignation to send a positive shock in the country, and that he wants a positive dialogue for the interest of the Lebanese people and the Arabs.
Hariri said that he stayed in his residence since he arrived to Riyadh.
Regarding his trip to the UAE, he said that he went to explain his stance to Crown Prince sheikh Mohammed Ben Zayed. “It was a brotherly meeting and a very good one.”
Asked about his message to the Lebanese, he said: “My message is that Lebanon’s interest and its stability should be the priority. When I take such a step to send a positive shock, I hope the Lebanese will understand. I did it to protect Lebanon. The disassociation policy is fundamental. Our higher interest was threatened and I had to protect it.”
Hariri said that his relation with Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman is excellent and envied by those who spread rumors about it. “All our meetings were excellent and we consider each other brothers.”
Commenting on the fact that his resignation coincided with large arrests in Saudi Arabia, Hariri refused to interfere in “internal Saudi affairs,” adding that “we should arrests corrupt people in Lebanon too.”
He denied having been interrogated as a witness in affairs related to the corruption arrests, adding that he has nothing to do with these issues and they were never raised with him.
Asked about the Saudi arrests, he repeated that this is an internal Saudi affair, “Prince Mohammed Ben Salman knows what he is doing, the King is combatting corruption, a committee has been formed and everyone has the right to defend himself.”
Hariri said he will be back to Lebanon within 2-3 days to continue his path.
About president Aoun, he said: “He is an affectionate man, the relation that started between us is built on honesty and will continue. I am coming back, we will talk and agree on Lebanon’s interest, because I know that all he wants is a free, independent, sovereign Lebanon with a prosperous economy. We used to have differences but we agree now on most things and we have to focus on the disassociation policy.”
Asked about the Future Movement, Hariri said “this is the movement of independence and Lebanon First. I tell the members I will be back soon and we will continue the path together.”
Hariri thanked Grand Mufti Deriane for the meetings he held and for his wisdom in this period, adding that Dar el-Fatwa gathers all the Lebanese.
He noted that the country that mostly wants Lebanon’s stability is Saudi Arabia.
Asked why his tone in the interview is different from the one in his resignation speech, Hariri said that there is a difference between a speech and an interview, adding that the aim of the speech was to provoke a shock.
About Hezbollah’s weapons, he said there should be a dialogue on this issue, decided by president Aoun, which should also discuss Hezbollah’s regional interferences.
He hailed the Saudi openness towards Lebanon, by receiving figures such as Maronite patriarch Bechara Rai, adding that some people talk, but King Salman and Prince Mohammed talk and act accordingly.
He reminded that the Saudi sanctions against Hezbollah started only after its involvement in the Yemen war.
Hariri repeated that Lebanon’s interest is in the disassociation policy and building Lebanon, adding “You probably heard about the NEOM project. Two weeks ago I had a long discussion with Prince Mohammed who was very enthusiastic because the Lebanese have the expertise and can be part of this project. But when you discover other things you become in another place.”
Asked how can he ask for the implementation of the disassociation policy when Hezbollah has direct financing from Iran, Hariri said: “At some point, I insisted to have a dialogue between us and Hezbollah to discuss all issues related to the country’s interest and we were able to achieve stability but this doesn’t mean that outside interferences are in Lebanon’s interest. I tell Hezbollah that if we want to preserve Lebanon, our interest is to stop meddling in other countries.”
Asked whom he was in contact with, Hariri said: “I speak with people but I am in a period of meditation and I am working a lot.”
What will happen after this positive shock? Hariri answered: “I return to Lebanon and we start working again. But there should be a true and final settlement with Hezbollah on the regional issue. This shock was to understand that we have Arab friends that we should keep. You will see me in Beirut in the next couple of days to continue this path, the path of Rafic Hariri.”
Source: National News Agency