Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that his country was “no longer able to tolerate the interference of Hezbollah in the affairs of the Gulf countries, where 300,000 Lebanese live.”
“Their presence there is a very important element of our economy,” he stated, stressing that he would not accept that the Lebanese people pay the price of Hezbollah’s actions” or that a Lebanese political party participate in “maneuvers serving Iran’s interests.”
Hariri reiterated that he had not been held in Saudi Arabia. He pointed out that he resigned from Riyadh “to create a positive shock in Lebanon”.
“Many stories have been told about this subject. But if I were in detention, I would not be here today in Beirut and I would not have been able to travel to Paris, Egypt or Cyprus. I was free,” he said.
The Lebanese prime minister described Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as “a moderate man, who wants a policy of openness for his country.”
He pointed out that Prince Mohammed “is trying to fight corruption.”
“Look at what he has achieved at the economic level. He calls for moderation and authorizes women to drive… He wants a real openness for the Saudi society,” Hariri said in an interview with Paris Match.
On Iran, the premier noted that Saudi Arabia’s opposition to Iranian policy “stems from the interference suffered by the Kingdom in Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.”
“There is a problem with Iran,” he said. “Of course, we, Lebanese would like to have the best relations, economic relations in particular, with Iran. But it must be in the interest of our two countries.”
He also emphasized that the Lebanese people have prioritized their country’s interests above all other considerations.
“The Lebanese chose dialogue for the sake of Lebanon and its stability, and because nobody wants to live a civil war again,” he stated.
On Hezbollah’s weapons, Hariri said: “[The group] has weapons, but it does not use them on Lebanese soil. Lebanon’s interest is to ensure that these weapons are not used elsewhere, and that is the problem.”
“There has been a lot of blood in the region. I fear that the intervention of [Hezbollah] abroad will cost Lebanon dearly,” he stressed.