Lebanon’s Hariri arrives in Paris, set to hold talks with France’s Macron

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Above, police stand guard in front of a building in Paris where Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is set to meet French President Emmanuel Macron. (AFP)
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The convoy of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri departs Le Bourget airport in Paris early November 18. (AFP)
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The convoy of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrives in Paris early November 18. (AFP)
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Updated 18 November 2017
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Lebanon’s Hariri arrives in Paris, set to hold talks with France’s Macron

PARIS: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in France Saturday from Saudi Arabia, where his resignation announcement two weeks ago sparked accusations that he was being held there against his will.
Hariri is in Paris at the invitation of France's President Emmanuel Macron, who is attempting to help broker a solution to a political crisis that has raised fears over Lebanon's fragile democracy.
Hariri and his wife Lara, who landed at Le Bourget airport outside the French capital at 7:00 am (0600 GMT) after flying in from Riyadh overnight, were due to meet Macron at noon.
The couple were whisked to their Paris residence in a seven-car convoy under tight security.
Hariri, a dual Saudi citizen, has been in the Saudi capital since his televised announcement there on November 4 that he was stepping down because he feared for his life, accusing Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of destabilizing his country.
Shortly before leaving Riyadh for Paris, Hariri said in a tweet addressed to German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel that it was untrue he was being held in Saudi.
“To say that I am held up in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to leave the country is a lie. I am on the way to the airport,” Hariri tweeted.

Saudi Foreign Ministry Adel Al-Jubeir said on Thursday, “accusing Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri is completely baseless. It doesn’t hold merit as Hariri is free to go anywhere he wants,” adding that Hariri has some concerns about the security situation in Lebanon.
The Saudi foreign minister said Hezbollah is disturbing regional peace and stability by supporting Houthi militias in Yemen, suppressing the will of the Syrian people and violating Lebanese law. Hezbollah must learn to “respect Lebanon’s sovereignty,” he added.


Erdogan says 3 million refugees could be returned to Syria safe zone

Updated 18 September 2019

Erdogan says 3 million refugees could be returned to Syria safe zone

  • Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, the highest number in the world
  • Working with the US, Turkish forces are seeking to clear a swathe of northern Syria

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip said Wednesday that up to three million Syrian refugees could be returned to a “safe zone” it is seeking to establish in northern Syria.
Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees — the highest number in the world — and there have been signs of a public backlash over their presence after eight long years of war in its neighbor to the south.
Working with the United States, Turkish forces are seeking to clear a swathe of northern Syria, in part to push Kurdish rebels away from its border but also to facilitate the return of refugees.
If successful, “we will be able to house, depending on the depth of the safe zone, between two and three million Syrian refugees that are currently in Turkey and Europe,” Erdogan said in a televised speech.
Erdogan said earlier this week that he envisions the “peace corridor” as stretching right across northern Syria all the way to Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa — which he said would allow even more than three million to return.
He called for “much greater support” from Europe in realizing the plan.
For Turkey, a key priority is curbing the influence of Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as an off-shoot of the Kurdish separatists in its own territory.
On Wednesday, Erdogan repeated his threat to launch military attacks against the Kurds if they are not pushed back from the Turkish border by the end of the month.
“As we’ve said, if we don’t see results in the next two weeks, we will activate our plan,” he said.
But the YPG is firmly established in northern Syria and has been a crucial ally of the United States in fighting the Daesh group, creating a tricky balancing act for Washington.
Ankara says US promises to push the YPG back from the Turkish border have so far been “cosmetic.”
Turkey has twice launched unilateral operations into Syria against the YPG and Daesh group, in 2016 and 2018.