LONDON -- The shocking announcement by Lebanon's prime minister earlier this month that he would step down, followed by a bizarre television interview he gave this week from his home in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, have generated rumors and innuendo across the Middle East.
Reactions to Hariri’s body language during the interview was closely dissected on social media and by reporters. It was widely discussed how tired and exhausted he seemed. The fact that his eyes kept diverting to a man standing in the back of the room who was briefly shown with a piece of paper in his hand was a sign to some that the interview had been controlled.
Iran's Ebtekar newspaper connected Saudi Arabia’s attempts to blame a recent missile attack in Riyadh by rebels in Yemen to Hariri’s resignation.
But regardless of the Iranian-Saudi regional challenges, another speculation behind Hariri’s arrest was whether it was related to the mass arrest of a group of influential Saudi figures that was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The official reason given for the arrests was eliminating corruption.
Over the last weekend, hundreds of influential Saudi figures, including 11 princes, ministers and former ministers , were arrested.
The government said the arrests stemmed from an anti-corruption probe launched by the crown prince and are part of reforms he had promised. Few analysts believe the official explanation to be valid, however.
Trump and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the most famous and richest men to be arrested, have a history of attacking each other on social media.
Regarding the missile attack on Saudi Arabia, the White House condemned Iran in an official statement published on Wednesday, saying the United States stood with Saudi Arabia against the Yemeni rebels who were said to have launched the missile.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, on the other hand, accused the United States of starting a war in the region to sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia, referring to the billion-dollar weapon trade contract between the two countries after Trump’s first visit to the Middle East.