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Saad Hariri Was ‘Exfiltrated’ Out of Saudi Arabia and Into Paris

PARIS, Nov. 18, 2017 (Nouvelle Solidarité)—Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in Paris this morning with part of his family. He is expected to stay until Nov. 22, and then return to Lebanon.

The French media is explicit about what happened. Le Monde reported that "Hariri was ’exfiltrated’ from Saudi Arabia." The term "exfiltrate" is used only when a prisoner, or somebody who is in danger, is removed to safety by an operation carried out by secret services.

Clearly French President Emmanuel Macron acted properly in this situation. First Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had tried the equivalent of a putsch against Lebanon, by forcing Lebanon’s Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign while Hariri was in Riyadh. Prince Mohammed wanted to provoke chaos and civil war, but Lebanese President Michel Aoun, by calmly denouncing the fact that Hariri was being blackmailed or held by the Saudi authorities, who were threatening to destroy the Lebanese unity just regained a a year year or so ago, managed to rally most of Lebanon’s people to defend the country’s sovereignty.

A big problem with Macron, however, is his relationship to Iran. In a speech given in Dubai just prior to his impromptu trip to Riyadh on Nov. 9 to meet with Prince Mohammed about Saad Hariri’s situation, he lashed out at Iran. Without any evidence, he accused Iran of firing the missile from Yemen aimed at Riyadh on Nov. 1. He also charged that Iran has "hegemonist views" respecting the entire Middle East following its successes in the war against ISIS. Macron is not proposing to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Tehran, but he is proposing that two "pillars" be added to that agreement: 1) sanctions to constrain Iran’s ballistic missile development; and 2) stopping Iran’s "hegemonist" actions in the Middle East.

Clearly he will have to choose in the coming period between defending Lebanon, whose security is today ensured by the Christian/Hezbollah alliance including Hezbollah’s special role in defense against Israel, and playing into the British-orchestrated Saudi hostility against Iran, which could lead to a new war.