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>> Lebanon believes billionaire politician Saad Al Hariri is under house arrest in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-backed Lebanese prime minister flew to Riyadh last Friday and resigned from there the following day. Lebanese leaders have refused to accept his resignation and demanded his return, even his own Future Movement. Now a senior politician close to Hariri has told Reuters he was forced to do it.
Tiny Lebanon has been thrown into the center of a gathering storm between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Reuters' Tom Perry is in Beirut.>> Saudi Arabia this week, took the unprecedented step of accusing the Lebanese government of declaring war against it. Thereby lumping it together with Hezbollah as a party viewed hostile to Saudi Arabia.
This is causing deep concern. Military action by Saudi Arabia is viewed as very unlikely. But there is deep concern for the economy, with so many Lebanese living and working in the Gulf states.>> Hezbollah, which is backed by Tehran, has said for days that the Saudis are holding Hariri against his will.
But this is the first time politicians close to him have agreed. Riyadh denies all such suggestions, and says Hariri is free to come and go. The man himself has been silent on that point though. One possible motive for such a detention would be piling pressure on Hezbollah to get to Iran.
>> Hariri's unexpected resignation has really pitched Lebanon into a political crisis. He was the head of a coalition of government that included all of the main Lebanese factions, among them Hezbollah. And as Lebanon's main Sunni politician, it really raises a big question around how a new government could be formed without him, or without his blessing.
So that raises big concerns about the government of Lebanon going forward.>> Others in Lebanon have speculated that Hariri and his vast business empire are caught up in the Saudi crown prince's avowed anti-corruption crackdown Dozens of royals, top officials, and businessmen have been detained and their assets are to be confiscated.