Saudi Arabia 'imposed' Lebanon PM's resignation, says Hezbollah chief

Saul Bowman
November 6, 2017

"Hariri, who had just came back from his trip to Saudi Arabia, held talks with the Iranian envoy in Beirut and immediately left the Lebanese capital for Riyadh to announce his resignation through Saudi media", the source said.

The resignation of the prime minister, a Sunni Muslim, toppled a coalition government that included Hezbollah.

Mr Hariri left Lebanon for Saudi Arabia on Friday and resigned on Saturday in a televised statement that took the Lebanese political establishment by surprise. In a statement, the presidential office said Aoun was informed by Hariri in a phone call of his resignation, adding that the president now awaits Hariri's return to clarify the circumstances of his resignation and proceed accordingly.

But it's been an uneasy partnership between Hariri, who heads a Sunni-led camp loyal to Saudi Arabia, and Hezbollah, which represents a camp loyal to Shiite Iran. "We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik al-Hariri", his father, who was killed in a vehicle bomb incident in 2005 that many believe Hezbollah was involved in".

Hariri said the atmosphere in Lebanon is quite similar to the period leading up to the assassination of his father, Rafiq Hariri, in 2005.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hariri's resignation and comments "are a wake-up call to the global community to take action against the Iranian aggression that is trying to turn Syria into Lebanon 2".

Lebanon has mostly managed to wall itself off from Syria's strife, with a flourishing tourism industry, as NPR's Ruth Sherlock reported recently.

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh sought to calm fears the political turmoil would hit Lebanon's already fragile economy, issuing a statement to reaffirm the stability of its currency, which is pegged against the USA dollar.

Manama has declared Hezbollah a terrorist group and repeatedly accused it of involvement in violent attacks in the kingdom. Arab news sources said that al-Hariri had very recently survived an assassination attempt, which was the direct impetus for his decision.

A Saudi minister said on Saturday that Hariri's personal security detail had "confirmed information" about the plot. This is an indication that the resignation was designed to create tension in Lebanon and the region.

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