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Saad Hariri returns to Lebanon after shock resignation

Saad Hariri returns to Lebanon after shock resignation

Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon's prime minister from Saudi Arabia, walks down the steps of an airplance at Beirut's global airport, in Beirut, Lebanon, November 21, 2017. Aoun spoke in a televised speech on the eve of the country's independence day celebrations.

"I don't think anyone, including Saudi Arabia, is under the illusion that the Lebanese government has any control over Hezbollah's behavior overseas", Itani said, noting that part of the group's popularity in Lebanon's Shia areas stems from its substantial provision of social services neglected by the state.

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Saudi Arabia, Hariri's long-time political patron, is Iran's arch-foe in the region.

Hariri has sought to dispel speculation that Saudi Arabia asked him to resign because he would not confront Hezbollah, the Shiite group that plays a key role in Lebanon's fragile government but whose armed wing is fighting in Syria to support of fellow Iran ally President Bashar al-Assad.

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Lebanon's Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as prime minister on November 4, has arrived in Cairo for talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egyptian airport sources said on Tuesday.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, has said he will not accept Mr Hariri's resignation until it is delivered in person.

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"They stressed the importance of maintaining Lebanon's stability and prioritizing Lebanese greater national interests", said the Egyptian presidential statement, noting both leaders agreed to continue intensified coordination and consultation in this regard.