Lebanon's Prime Minister Is Missing; Some Fear War Nears

Saad Hariri resigned suddenly while in Saudi Arabia last week, has yet to return to Lebanon
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2017 1:23 PM CST
Lebanon's Prime Minister Is Missing; Some Fear War Nears
A woman and her daughter pass by a poster of outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

In the week since he suddenly and unexpectedly resigned as Lebanon's prime minister during a trip to Saudi Arabia, Saad Hariri has yet to return to his country—or make any sort of public statement at all, Reuters reports. According to the New York Times, on Friday Hezbollah, which is part of Hariri's governing coalition, claimed Saudi Arabia kidnapped Hariri then asked Israel to launch an attack on Lebanon. Analysts say that's an entirely possible series of events, and one that Lebanese authorities echoed on Saturday, the AP reports. Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Saturday asked Saudi Arabia to explain Hariri's absence from Lebanon. "The obscurity regarding Hariri's conditions makes anything that he says or does not reflect truth," Aoun said. Saudi Arabia has claimed to be protecting Hariri from an assassination attempt.

The Times calls the situation "one in a profusion of bewildering events ... that are escalating tensions in the Middle East." Those events include Saudi Arabia arresting princes and businessmen, ordering its citizens out of Lebanon, having an undisclosed meeting with Jared Kushner, and claiming a missile that approached its capital last Saturday was orchestrated by Hezbollah and Iran. On Friday, Rex Tillerson appeared to send a warning to Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia, and Iran about using Lebanon "as a venue for proxy conflicts." And on Saturday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders asked "all states and parties to respect Lebanon's sovereignty, independence, and constitutional processes." Analysts and diplomats fear all of this is leading to a military conflict in the region. (More Lebanon stories.)

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