DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:00 AM) – The Lebanese government has been delaying the official reception of the new Saudi ambassador Walid al-Yaqoub, for nearly a month now, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah reports.
Walid al-Yaqoub arrived in Lebanon on November 20, and has been trying to receive an audience with the Lebanese president ever since, in order to offer his credentials and officially start his tenure as ambassador. However, Aoun is reportedly refraining from officially setting a date for the event, and has postponed the settling of the matter several times at cabinet meetings.
It is likely that the refusal by Lebanese president Michel Aoun to officially receive Yaqoub is a new chapter in a diplomatic rift between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia that was caused by the Saudi involvement in the likely forced resignation of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, who was kept in de facto detention in Saudi Arabia for weeks.
Hariri offered his resignation in a televised message during his stay in Saudi Arabia, in which he also denounced Iran and Hezbollah, even though the latter is a coalition partner in the current Lebanese government. Michel Aoun however, refused to accept the resignation, noting it was likely made under duress. Eventually, Hariri was allowed to return to Lebanon, where he promptly retracted his resignation.
The Saudi involvement was widely seen as a Saudi attempt to pressure Lebanon into cooperating with Saudi foreign policy, and to disrupt the nation’s political process if it wanted to continue its cordial relations with Iran.