Hariri says he wants Lebanon to be 'neutral,' but won't let Hezbollah jeopardize regional security

Hariri says he wants Lebanon to be 'neutral,' but won't let Hezbollah jeopardize regional security
The prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, who announced his resignation earlier this month while in Saudi Arabia, but has returned to Beirut and postponed it, has said his latest change of heart is based on a desire to keep the country out of regional conflicts.

The decision to postpone his official resignation is aimed at supporting Lebanon's "disassociation" policy, the minister said in a statement Saturday, Lebanon's state news agency NNA reported. The step, made at the request of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, is aimed at "keeping Lebanon neutral" and out of regional conflicts, he explained, claiming that he now needs time to look into what is to be done to enforce the peaceful course and avoid further tensions triggered by his earlier surprise announcement.

However, Hariri's statement suggested the PM seems to be still opposed to Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group, which the politician has accused of a "desire to destroy the Arab world" in his initial resignation announced from Riyadh. "Hezbollah stances that affect our Arab brothers or target the security and stability of their countries" would not be accepted, he said, without going into specifics.

"This crisis revealed the intentions of some to target stability for personal interests. We faced them and will continue to face them to maintain unity and stability," Hariri said, addressing Lebanon's Supreme Islamic Sharia Council, as quoted by NNA. "If we do not act wisely, we will drag the country into chaos," he added.

Meanwhile, a Hezbollah official said on Saturday that the Shiite group was ready for negotiations and cooperation with its "partners in the country," NNA reported. Having reiterated Hezbollah's stance on Hariri's resignation, which it sees as being orchestrated by Riyadh, the group's international relations officer, Ammar Moussawi, said the group is open for dialogue.

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Calls for reconciliation in the region have also been put forward by another top Lebanese politician, Walid Jumblatt. Representing the Druze group in the Middle East, Jumblatt called not only on Beirut, but also on Saudi Arabia, to engage in dialogue with Iran, as there are more regional conflicts to be solved.

"There has to be a reconciliation or compromise," he said, as quoted by NNA, adding that "there is no blemish or indignity in directly addressing the Islamic Republic." Also urging Riyadh to end war in Yemen, Jumblatt suggested alliances should be made to address "Israeli settlement expansion."

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"After the cessation of war and media wars, there must be an Arab-Iranian dialogue to determine how to address the points of conflict and unify efforts to confront the Israeli settlement expansion on Arab and Islamic lands," he added.