Saad Hariri. (Photo: CGTN)
Cairo (People's Daily) - Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Wednesday that he will be putting his resignation on hold at his president's request, opening a path to solving a crisis that has thrown the tiny Mediterranean nation into regional tensions.
Hariri eventually conducted a whirlwind tour of Paris, Cairo and Cyprus before landing in Beirut just before midnight on Tuesday, almost three weeks after his abrupt resignation announced on November 4th in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, under what many believed was pressure from the kingdom's leaders to counter Iranian influence in the region.
On Wednesday, Hariri said that he presented his resignation to President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace, but then responded to Aoun's request to take more time for consultations, "hoping it will constitute a serious introduction for [national] dialogue."
He reiterated the need for Lebanon to remain neutral on regional disputes and conflicts "and all that undermines internal stability and brotherly relations with Arab brothers."
The postponement of his resignation will offer a breathing space for the Lebanese, who are struggling with the spillover from the war in Syria, tensions arising from Hezbollah's participation in the conflict alongside Bashar al-Assad, and a large refugee population in a country already riven by sectarian divisions.
Significantly, Hariri has opened the possibility that he may stay in power if Hezbollah respects Lebanon's policy of staying out of regional conflicts. But much still remained unclear, including what made him change his mind, how long he will remain in office and how much of a role Saudi Arabia may have played in his decisions.
Moreover, it is unclear what concessions he might get from Hezbollah. The group, which is the mainstay of a political bloc against Hariri's own Saudi-backed bloc, enjoys widespread popularity in the country.
Nevertheless, Hezbollah's head, Hassan Nasrallah, has indicated that the group could reduce its presence in Iraq and elsewhere after helping claw back Islamic State's last bastions in the area. But whether that will appease a wounded Saudi Arabia is unknown.