France's robust intervention that coincided with the French presidency's announcement that it had invited Prime Minister Saad Hariri to live in France with his family appears to be a diplomatic way out for Mohammed bin Salman's predicament, which he faced after the strong official and popular stance in Lebanon. That reaction took the Saudi ruler by surprise.
It seems that the French endeavor may be a way out for Mohammed Bin Salman from this impasse. The French are simply giving him the ladder to descend from the tree. This is according to French sources following Hariri situation in Saudi Arabia.
The Al-Ahed news website revealed some details of the French maneuver in an article it published on November 11: "Hariri's French Nationality May Be The Last Resort To Resolve His Case".
The French sources that spoke to Al-Ahed said that "the French presidency's statement came after coordination with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who telephoned France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Laudrian about the matter. The two sides reached the [aforementioned] conclusion, which allows Bin Salman to save face. Therefore, Hariri's return would be to Paris and not to Beirut. Then he would return to Beirut several days after his arrival in Paris."
While the French side is not certain with Saudi Arabia's commitment to the agreement and does not exclude the possibility of Riyadh backtracking, the French sources point out that "the French presidency is in contact with the administration of US President Donald Trump to achieve Hariri's exit from Saudi Arabia without any obstacles and without any encroachment and delay from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and those around him." The French sources pointed out that "the French embassy in the United Arab Emirates is following the affair with the UAE authorities due to the influence of Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed over Mohammed bin Salman."
The French sources confirm that "despite the agreement between Laudrian and Bin Salman, nothing guarantees the commitment of the latter to agree without continuing pressure from Lebanon and the world. This explains the Lebanese escalation that came a few hours before the French presidential statement. The President of the Lebanese Republic, General Michel Aoun, gathered all the directors of the Lebanese television stations and newspapers as well as members of the National Media Council and informed them that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is being held in Saudi Arabia and that Lebanon regards this as an act of Saudi aggression."
In this regard, the French sources told Al-Ahed of four possible outcomes in the case, which are as follows:
1 - Mohammed bin Salman keeps Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri detained in Saudi Arabia with the diplomatic and political consequences whose features are becoming evident with the Lebanese escalation and the international attention.
2 - Mohammed bin Salman allows the Prime Minister to leave alone from Saudi Arabia and keeps his family to pressure him. This option will not go down easily. The Lebanese will not let it pass politically and through the media.
3 - Mohammed bin Salman releases Hariri and his family without any settlement and bears the consequences of what might happen afterwards in case Hariri decided to speak or leaks begin in the Lebanese and global media regarding the circumstances Hariri's detention and what happened with the rest of the princes who were arrested due to Mohammed bin Salman's decision.
4 - Bin Salman commits to the French settlement, which is an honorable exit for him, where Hariri returns to Paris first and then to Beirut.
According to the French sources, the terms of the Franco-Saudi agreement points out that Hariri will remain prime minister in Lebanon, and the Lebanese will find the appropriate solution for this matter.