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Lebanese PM Hariri In Saudi Arabia For First Time Since Resignation Saga

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in Saudi Arabia Wednesday, his first trip to Riyadh since announcing his resignation from the kingdom under bizarre circumstances in November. Hariri’s resignation—which was withdrawn two weeks later—triggered a major diplomatic crisis and gave rise to rumors that he was coerced into quitting in a Saudi effort to destabilize Lebanon and thus reduce arch-foe Iran’s influence in the country, which is projected through its Hizbullah underling. Hariri’s spur-of-the-moment visit comes just two days after he met with a high-ranking Saudi envoy in Beirut, raising further questions about the strong influence the House of Saud exerts over the Lebanese premier. Tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite-dominated Iran have eased over the past few months, with the Saudi envoy having also delivered a message from King Salman to Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a Hizbullah ally, underscoring the strength of the countries’ bilateral ties.