Many Lebanese citizens these days are occupied with the question of what stands behind Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Al-Hariri's extended stay in Saudi Arabia, and whether he is in the country of his own free will.

A senior official in the Lebanese government who did not identify himself said today (Thursday) that Al-Hariri is in being held in Saudi Arabia against his will.


"Because of this, Lebanon is asking foreign countries to pressure Saudi Arabia to release Hariri," said the senior official, who claimed that denying Al-Hariri's freedom in Saudi Arabia violated Lebanese sovereignty. "His honor is our honor."

Events took an unexpected turn on Saturday when Al-Hariri announced that he was resigning from his post in a televised speech from Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon's control by Iran via Hezbollah was the reason given for stepping down. Hezbollah, Al-Hariri said, “has come to control the seams of the state and has the final and decisive say in the affairs of Lebanon and the Lebanese.”

Like the unclear resignation's circumstances, so are the very circumstances of his arrival in Saudi Arabia and his presence on its soil. Al-Hariri reportedly met with the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. To date, Al-Hariri has not issued any statement denying reports that he is being held in Saudi Arabia under house arrest conditions.

Estimates of the situation suggest that Hariri was recently threatened by Iran to choose between supporting the strategy of the US administration against Hezbollah, or else Lebanon would face chaos and Hariri himself would meet the fate of his father who was assassinated on February 14th 2005.

Update: Associated Press reports that Saudi Arabia has ordered its citizens out of Lebanon "immediately".