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Hariri makes anticipated return home to Lebanon, after whirlwind month

Hariri has returned to Beirut after a whirlwind month [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 November, 2017

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Saad Hariri, who resigned as prime minister earlier this month, has returned home to Lebanon, making brief visits to Egypt and Cyprus on Tuesday.

Saad Hariri, who resigned as prime minister early November, landed in Beirut late Tuesday for his much anticipated return home to Lebanon.

Hariri landed at Beirut airport at around midnight, his office, said, and follows a tumultuous month of drama and intrigue surrounding the Lebanese heavyweight who has become at the centre of a political storm between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Hariri promised to return home on Wednesday for the country's Independence Day celebrations, promising to clarify his position.

It follows a surprise and unorthodox resignation speech Hariri made from Saudi Arabia on 4 November.

His decision, he said, was based on threats to his life and the growing power of Tehran-backed Hizballah, one of Riyadh's many regional nemeses.

On his way back to Lebanon, Hariri stopped in Cyprus for talks with the country's President Nicos Anastasiades where they discussed "the latest developments in Lebanon and the region".

Hariri has close ties with Cyprus and met Anastasiades for talks on investment in Lebanon just days before he resigned as prime minister.

Cyprus announced they would supply military aid to the Lebanese army, including light arms and ammunition.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hariri met Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, a key patron of Saudi Arabia.

There the two discussed the "latest developments in Lebanon and the region" and the need to keep Beirut from "all regional policies".

Hariri also confirmed he would return to Lebanon after a long stay in France following rumours he was being held captive in Saudi Arabia by Riyadh’s leadership.

"Inshallah (God willing), tomorrow's Independence Day in Lebanon will be a feast for all Lebanese," he said.

Sisi also spoke by telephone to Lebanon President Michael Aoun, who has insisted Hariri return to Beirut to tender his resignation.

Riyadh and its allies have accused Iran's ally Hizballah of dominating Lebanese politics and also supplying arms and training to Houthi rebels who are battling Saudi-backed forces in Yemen.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran spiked earlier this month when a missile fired by the Houthis was shot down over Riyadh.

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