Lebanese dating agency
When I heard that President Macron was ready to whisk Lebanon’s kidnapped prime minister to Paris with his family – victims of the gentlest hostage-taking in the history of Saudi Arabia – I couldn’t but recall what Saad Hariri said to me a few years after he first became Lebanon’s premier in 2009.
I was sitting in his office in his Koreitem Palace – a vast, ugly monster of a building not far from the Hamra district of Beirut – and I asked him if he liked being prime minister of Lebanon. “I am following in my father’s footsteps,” he said repeatedly.
The comparatively young Rafiq – this was in the 1990s, before he was prime minister – was sitting in his office complex, headquarters of the now bankrupt Oger company, indulging in the irritating habit so beloved of Arab businessmen: talking to advisers while glancing constantly at a vast television screen to distract him from the conversation. He obviously wanted to rebuild the country after the civil war. As a Sunni citizen as well as a Lebanese citizen, the Saudis expected him to tame the Shia Hezbollah.
But he had to rule a united Lebanon, not lead it into another civil war. He tried to economically strangle Qatar – because of its close relations with Iran – and liquidate the Al Jazeera channel, and he failed.
He was a plump man and I thought at first he was the man who sells thyme bread on the Corniche until I saw the hair over his collar. With a colleague, I had first met Rafiq Hariri not in Beirut but in Riyadh, the Saudi capital where his son is now incarcerated, albeit in the luxury to which the family was and still is accustomed. And with Hezbollah’s ministers in the government – freely and fairly elected, we should add – Saad Hariri found himself in a different kind of danger when he immediately returned as prime minister last year.For it now transpires that a number of EU ambassadors in Riyadh seriously feared for Saad Hariri’s life after he read his infamous and scripted speech.Others fear for the future of the Saudi foreign minister and former Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir, who must surely have tried to advise the Crown Prince not to coerce Hariri. When al-Jubair later appeared on television, his eyes – in the words of a close acquaintance of the Hariri family – “stood out on stalks”.So when 32-year old Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia tried to destroy the power of Shia Islam, Lebanon (and Hariri) were bound to be targets of this dangerous young man’s fury. So now he turned his massive irritation against Lebanon.The prince had tried to destroy Bashar al-Assad’s Shia regime. It looks as if this too will be a dismal failure – thanks partly to President Macron.