Saad Hariri was forced by Saudi Arabia to step down as Lebanese prime minister earlier this month because of his unwillingness to confront Hezbollah, according to sources close to Hariri.

According to sources speaking to Reuters, Hariri believed he had convinced Saudi officials of the need to maintain an entente with Hezbollah for the sake of Lebanon’s stability.

During a visit by Hariri to the kingdom prior to his resignation on 4 November, Prince Mohammed bin Salman had arranged for him to see senior intelligence officials and Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan, the Saudi point man on Lebanon.

When Hariri’s plane landed in Riyadh, he got the message immediately that something was wrong

– Source close to Hariri

Hariri came back to Beirut from that trip “pleased and relaxed,” sources in his entourage said. He posted a selfie with Sabhan, both of them smiling. He told aides he had heard “encouraging statements” from the crown prince, including a promise to revive a Saudi aid package for the Lebanese army.

“What happened in those meetings, I believe, is that [Hariri] revealed his position on how to deal with Hezbollah in Lebanon: that confrontation would destabilize the country.