November 24, 2017 / 10:41 AM / in 24 days

Lebanon's Jumblatt criticizes Saudi over Hariri

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Top Lebanese Druze politician Walid Jumblatt on Friday criticized the way Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri had been treated by “some Saudi circles”, the first time he has appeared to direct blame at Riyadh over Hariri’s resignation this month.

Jumblatt also condemned Iranian “dictates”, an apparent response to a statement by the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards this week that disarming of the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah was out of the question.

Lebanese officials say Saudi Arabia put Hariri under effective house arrest in Riyadh and forced him to declare his resignation on Nov. 4. Saudi Arabia has denied holding Hariri against his will or forcing him to resign.

Hariri shelved his resignation on Wednesday after returning to Beirut this week following an intervention by France.

Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon's prime minister from Saudi Arabia, is seen at the grave of his father, assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, in downtown Beirut November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

His resignation had thrust Lebanon to the forefront of the regional tussle between the Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shi‘ite Islamist Iran.

“As Lebanese disapproved the unaccustomed way that Sheikh Saad was dealt with by some Saudi circles, we reject this Iranian diktat from Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards,” Jumblatt wrote.

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He appeared to be referring to Jafari’s comment that disarming the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah was out of the question.

“The Lebanese have enough experience and knowledge to deal with their affairs through dialogue. We do not want dictates from across the borders that go against their interests,” Jumblatt said.

Announcing his decision to suspend his resignation, Hariri stressed Lebanon must stick by its stated policy of staying out of regional conflicts, a reference to Hezbollah whose regional military role is a source of deep concern in Saudi Arabia.

Writing by Tom Perry; editing by Ralph Boulton

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