Hariri’s party says he still PM, urges him to return to Lebanon

Press TV- A Lebanese political party led by Saad Hariri, who recently resigned in Saudi Arabia, says the politician is still the country’s prime minister.

In a televised statement on Thursday, Future Movement threw its weight behind Hariri, calling for his immediate return to Lebanon.

“We confirm our support for Prime Minister Saad Hariri and for all the decisions he makes under any circumstances,” the movement said, adding that Hariri’s return “is necessary to restoring the internal and external balance of Lebanon with full respect to Lebanese legitimacy.”

Hariri quit his post on Saturday in a speech from Saudi Arabia and has not returned to Lebanon since. In his speech, he accused Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Hariri’s departure has sent shockwaves throughout Lebanon as the country is struggling to maintain stability at a time when much of the Middle East is gripped with Takfiri violence rooted in Saudi Arabia.

Analysts believe that Hariri, a pro-Saudi politician, was coerced into resignation by Saudi Arabia, which has stepped up its belligerent rhetoric against Iran and Hezbollah in recent weeks.

Some Lebanese politicians and officials say Hariri is being held in Saudi Arabia under a house arrest.

Riyadh warns citizens against traveling to Lebanon

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia urged its citizens visiting or residing in Lebanon to quit the country immediately.

“Due to the circumstances in the Lebanese Republic, the kingdom asks its citizens who are visiting or residing” in the country to leave it as soon as possible, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted an unnamed official source at the Foreign Ministry as saying.

The source also advised all Saudi citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations.

Additionally, Kuwait has also ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately.

In a statement carried by state news agency KUNA, a source at the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry urged the country’s nationals not to travel to Lebanon.

The developments followed a similar warning issued last week by Bahrain, which ordered all its citizens in Lebanon to “leave immediately and exercise extreme caution.”

The developments in Lebanon coincided with a sweeping crackdown by Saudi rulers at home, where a number of royals and businessmen have been rounded up as part of a purported anti-graft campaign.

New appointments in Saudi judiciary

Separately on Thursday, the SPA reported that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had issued a royal order that promoted 26 judges and appointed 30 others at different levels of the judiciary.

This comes as dozens of high-profile royals, ministers and business tycoons were arrested in the weekend purge soon after the creation of a so-called anti-corruption commission headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The detainees face allegations of bribery, money laundering, extortion and exploiting public office for personal gain.

It was unclear if the judges will have anything to do with the widening crackdown in the kingdom.

The development came after it was announced that regulators in the United Arab Emirates had asked banks for information about citizens detained in Saudi crackdown, in what has been seen as a possible prelude to freezing their accounts.