We told you in the last Countdown about the “half-joking/half-serious” speculation that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was held against his will in Saudi Arabia. Well, the half-joking part has since died off. It started with State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert referring to the “the conditions of him being held”, only to quickly backtrack and dance around the question of whether he was being held against his will or not. Shortly after, Lebanese government officials, including allies of the Prime Minister, started saying they believed Hariri was under house arrest. But to assure his home country that he was well, Hariri gave a TV interview saying he was free and well. But his demeanor was so tense in the interview that it only added to the belief that he wasn’t really free. Hariri has long been saying that he’ll be returning to Lebanon “soon”, but has now also accepted an invitation to go to France, which is expected to happen in the next 48 hours. One ominous line in the Washington Post noted “It was unclear whether Hariri would take his family on the trip.” Elsewhere, it was reported in Israel that when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was summoned to Saudi Arabia last week, he was “ordered” to either accept Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan when it’s presented (speculatively early next year) or resign. Is that actually true? And what exactly is in Trump’s “ultimate deal”? The suspense is killing us (we bet it’s super ultimate).

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