The former prime minister, Saad Hariri, must be wondering what he did wrong. The latest reason for his disbelief came because of an interviewgiven this week by the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon, Ali Awad al-Assiri, to Al-Araby al-Jadeed.
In remarks to the newspaper, Assiri was quoted as saying that Saudi Arabia did not intend to intervene in the Lebanese presidential election, but supported any candidate whom the Lebanese chose. He then added that the Kingdom had not backed Sleiman Franjieh, but rather had supported an initiative around which it thought there was a consensus. However, the ambassador added, “we did not see this consensus.”
Hariri is the main backer of a Franjieh presidency, and at the time Assiri’s comments were made he was traveling to Moscow to gauge Russian intentions toward the election. That’s why the ambassador’s comments were, effectively, a disavowal of the former prime minister’s position, and at a particularly sensitive moment.