Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigns in shocking announcement

Trevor Jackson
November 5, 2017

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri unexpectedly resigned Saturday during a trip to Saudi Arabia, saying his life was in danger, and creating a leadership vacuum in an already politically fractured country.

In a televised address from Saudi Arabia, Hariri criticized Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, accusing Tehran of planting "sedition" and meddling in Arab affairs.

Saad Hariri, who resigned from Lebanon's premiership Saturday, is a son of assassinated billionaire Rafik Hariri who never achieved his father's aura but fears he could suffer the same fate.

Mr Hariri was appointed prime minister in late 2016 and was leader of a 30-member national unity cabinet that included Hezbollah.

"The resigning Lebanese prime minister's repetition of the unrealistic and unfounded accusations of the Zionists, Saudis and Americans against Iran is an indication that this resignation is a new scenario for creating tension in Lebanon and the region", Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in a statement published on the ministry website.

He said Hariri's move could start "a cold war in Lebanon that could escalate into a civil war" or even a regional offensive on Hezbollah. Syria has dominated Lebanon's political scene for much of its post-independence history. "Despite my efforts, Iran continues to abuse Lebanon", he said.

"By going after Hezbollah, by denying Hezbollah a credible Sunni partner in governance, it thus weakens Hezbollah on the home front", Slim said.

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He is a vociferous critic of Iran, the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and the regime in neighbouring Syria, which he blames for his father's killing. His attacks on Hezbollah come on the heels of new USA sanctions on the group that many fear will impact negatively on the Lebanese economy.

"I announce my resignation as a prime minister", he said.

"When I took office, I promised you that I would seek to unite the Lebanese, end political division and establish the principle of self-sufficiency, but I have been unable to do so", he said.

Hariri's bombshell resignation - even close aides seemed unaware of the announcement - ushers in a stage of deep uncertainty and potential instability.

In Beirut's Tarik al-Jadideh neighbourhood, a predominantly Sunni neighbourhood supportive of Hariri, residents described the shock resignation as a positive step.

He served a full term as a prime minister in 2009-2011, which was marked by tensions with Hezbollah. She also noted Hariri holds dual citizenship in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. "What's coming is better, God willing", al-Sabhan tweeted on Tuesday. "Hezbollah is a menace to the Lebanese state, the Lebanese people and the entire region", he said.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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