Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has revoked his resignation following a consensus deal reached with rival political parties, marking an end to one of the most bizarre interludes in Lebanese politics.
The announcement came at the end of the first cabinet meeting to be held since Lebanon was thrown into a political crisis following Mr Hariri’s stunning move a month ago. Mr Hariri announced his resignation in a November 4 televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia, citing the Iranian-backed Hezbollah’s meddling in regional affairs as a main reason for stepping down.
The nature of the announcement raised suspicions that it was orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, his main backer. The move thrust Lebanon to the forefront of the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran and shattered the national unity government that Mr Hariri headed.
Following French mediation to bring Mr Hariri out of Saudi Arabia to Paris for a brief visit, he returned to Lebanon on November 21 and put the resignation on hold to allow for consultations.
Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, attended by Mr Hariri, endorsed a statement that calls on rival Lebanese groups to distance themselves from regional conflicts and the internal affairs of Arab countries.
“The Lebanese government, through all its political components, disassociates itself from any conflicts or wars, as well as the internal affairs of Arab countries to protect Lebanon’s political and economic relations with its Arab brothers,” Mr Hariri said. He then said he had rescinded his resignation.
It is not clear what, if anything, the agreement entails. Mr Hariri has complained about the Shiite militant Hezbollah group’s meddling in regional affairs, including the affairs of Gulf countries – a reference to Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is fighting Shiite rebels supported by Iran.
Hezbollah denies having a military role in war-torn Yemen. Two days before Mr Hariri returned to Lebanon, the group said its fighters are coming back from Iraq now that Islamic State has been defeated there.
Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to shore up president Bashar Assad’s forces.