Middle East

Lebanon’s Leader, Still in Saudi Arabia, Claims He’s Free to Go

Lebanon’s Leader, Still in Saudi Arabia, Claims He’s Free to Go

He had said in his resignation speech on Nov. 4 that there were threats against his life and that he was quitting because of interference in Lebanon by Iran and the dominance of its ally, the Lebanese Shiite militant group and political party, Hezbollah, which is part of the unity cabinet he led.

But in the interview, he seemed to leave open the question of whether his resignation was final. He said he would resign in person in the proper constitutional manner, but also that he would hold conversations with Mr. Aoun and others, and that he could possibly stay in office if Lebanon could follow a policy of neutrality in the region.

The interview came hours after a record number of people had taken part in the annual Beirut Marathon, which for many became a kind of statement of defiance against international interference in Lebanon, by any country.

Photo

Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, may be absent, but posters with his photograph and the words “We are all with you” are on display in Beirut.

Credit
Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

People passed out baseball caps with slogans like “bring back our PM,” or prime minister. The marathon is always billed as a statement of unity and resilience and given the regional tensions, Sunday’s was even more so.

Around 47,000 people — more than ever — showed up to run in the marathon and a number of shorter races, according to organizers.

“We are all Saad” and “Running for you” were among the slogans that appeared on placards, posters and billboards.

“It’s a mark of defiance against the forces of evil, against the forces on every side that want to interfere with Lebanon,” Imad Shehadi, a plastic surgeon, said after running the 1K race with his wife and two sons.

“To me it’s more resilience — the resilience of Lebanon and the Lebanese people, who just want to live life, no matter what,” said his wife, Carla Shehadi.

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