Lebanon PM Saad Hariri urges Lebanese to put country first
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Thursday Lebanon's political crisis was "a wake-up call" for Lebanese with different loyalties to put their country ahead of regional issues.
Hariri was referring to the crisis ignited by his shock announcement on Nov. 4 that he was resigning. He made it from Saudi Arabia, a Sunni monarchy and regional powerhouse locked in a confrontation with Shi'ite Islamist Iran. After returning to Lebanon this week, he shelved the decision on Wednesday at the request of President Michel Aoun.
"The period that passed was perhaps like a wake-up call for all of us to look for Lebanon's interests rather than looking at problems around us," Hariri said at the
Annual Arab Banking Conference in Beirut on Thursday.
"The problems around us are important, but Lebanon is more important." Hariri reaffirmed the need for Lebanon to stick by its policy of staying out of regional conflict "not just with words but with action as well".
"I want to stress that ... our main concern is stability, and this is what we'll be working on."
The regional role played by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah political and military movement has greatly alarmed Saudi Arabia, Hariri's long-time ally. Hezbollah's parliamentary group met on Thursday and said in a statement afterwards that Hariri's return to Lebanon and his "positive statements" signalled a possible return to normality. Hariri said on Wednesday his decision to postpone resigning would lead to "a responsible dialogue ... that deals with divisive issues and their repercussions on Lebanon's relations with Arab brothers."