Lebanon PM Hariri Resigns in fear for Life, Slamming Iran

Middle East Monitor | – –

Lebanon’s prime minister Saad al-Hariri resigned on Saturday, citing an assassination plot against him and accusing Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.

His resignation thrusts Lebanon back into the frontline of Saudi-Iranian regional rivalry and seems likely to exacerbate sectarian tensions between Lebanese Sunni and Shia Muslims.

It also shatters a coalition government formed last year after years of political deadlock, and which was seen as representing a victory for Shia Hezbollah and Iran.

Hariri, who is closely allied with Saudi Arabia, alleged in a televised broadcast that Hezbollah was “directing weapons” at Yemenis, Syrians and Lebanese and said the Arab world would “cut off the hands that wickedly extend to it”.

Hariri’s coalition, which took office last year, grouped nearly all of Lebanon’s main political parties, including the Future Movement and Hezbollah.

“We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of (his father the late prime minister) martyr Rafik al-Hariri. I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life,” Hariri said.

Rafik al-Hariri was killed in a 2005 Beirut waterfront bomb attack that also killed 21 other people, shaking the country and pushing his son Saad into politics.

In a statement read from an undisclosed location, Hariri said Hezbollah and Iran had brought Lebanon into the “eye of a storm” of international sanctions.

President Michel Aoun’s office said Hariri had called him from “outside Lebanon” to inform him of his resignation.

Hariri flew to Saudi Arabia on Friday after a meeting in Beirut with Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Afterwards, Velayati described Hariri’s coalition as “a victory” and “great success”.

A UN-backed tribunal charged five Hezbollah members over Rafik al-Hariri’s killing. Their trial in absentia at the Hague began in January 2014 and Hezbollah and the Syrian government, have both denied any involvement in the killing.

In his statement, Hariri said Iran was “losing in its interference in the affairs of the Arab world”, adding that Lebanon would “rise as it had done in the past”.

Hariri became premier late last year after a political deal that also brought Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, to office as president.

Hezbollah’s close ties to Iran and its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his war with rebels trying to overthrow him have been a major source of strife in neighbouring tiny Lebanon for years.

Hariri said:

Over previous decades, Hezbollah was able to impose a reality in Lebanon with the power of its weapons, which it claims is the (anti-Israel) resistance’s weapons, which are aimed at the chests of our Syrian and Yemeni brothers, not to mention the Lebanese.

He said the Lebanese people were suffering from Hezbollah’s interventions, both internally and at the level of their relationships with other Arab countries.

Hariri has visited Saudi Arabia, a political foe of Iran and Hezbollah, twice in the past week, meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior officials.

This work by Middle East Monitor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Via Middle East Monitor


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Lebanese PM Hariri resigns, stresses ‘Iran’s hands will be cut off’

5 Responses

  1. I read elsewhere (?) that President Aoun said he would not accept the resignation as long as Hariri was still in KSA,
    that he would have to return to Lebanon first.

  2. Amir Ali Shoja

    Stop fear mongering. He is safe from Hezbollah or Iran. This is Saudi move to destablize Lebanon politically, in hope of creating a military situation where the Hezbollah forces would be called back from Syria.
    Nasrallah has indicated that it won’t happened.

    • Dr. Cole posts articles from many sources; obviously Middle Eastern sources have their agendas. People who frequent this site know that Hariri is a Saudi stooge who smears Hezbollah upon command.

      I agree that Hezbollah might have cause for confidence. It depends on how its internal defenses are deployed. During the last Israeli invasion, the Israelis never even got to see the Hezbollah forces operating out of air-conditioned bunkers. If it has made similar ingenious preparations against a coup from the other direction, it doesn’t have to have its best troops at home to stave off a half-hearted “Lebanese Army.” No, the Saudis and Sunnis were counting on ISIS crossing the border to do their dirty work last year, but it is no more.

      If an actual Saudi army flies into Beirut to intervene, all bets are off, and the Big One between Saudi and Iran is as certain as the events of August 1914.

      • Hariri is many things; but a Saudi stooge is not one of them. Hariri is a Lebanese nationalist who is trying to persuade foreign powers to back Lebanon as much as possible.

        “the Saudis and the Sunnis were counting on ISIS crossing”
        Please don’t conflate ISIS with Sunnis, or even KSA with Sunnis.

        Hezbollah doesn’t have cause for confidence. Hezbollah has uneasy relations with Turkey and Jordan. And quietly uneasy relations with Nabih Berri and Amal. Hezbollah’s saving grace is benefiting from widespread anti twelver bigotry in Lebanon and the Arab world. If not for that, the Lebanese and their allies would form a coalition government with Amal against Hezbollah.

        The Saudi Army won’t fly to Beirut. Rather the Saudis would flow more assistance to the LAF and encourage other countries to do likewise.

        To use Godfather terminology, Nasrallah is similar to Luca Brasi. Khomeini is Godfather Vito Corleone (now out of the picture). Khamenei is Sunny. Nasrallah is violent, a little bit crazy and not completely under Khamenei’s leash. Lebanese Shia put up with Khamenei and Nasrallah out of fear of widespread (and real) anti twelver bigotry in Lebanon, the middle east and world.

        The moment the anti Shia bigotry drops, so will Nasrallah’s fortune as the Lebanese Shia rally to the more sensible, reasonable, nationalist and less sectarian Nabih Berri.

        What Hariri has done has hurt Nasrallah inside Lebanon. Nasrallah needs Hariri more than visa versa.

        What has long worried me about Hariri is that I think he plays the sectarian card in code; which is very dangerous . . . while not personally being sectarian. Hariri has never shown a willingness to truly embrace Amal to serve all Lebanese, which is a mistake.

        The Saudi stooge in Lebanon is the very dangerous Ahmad Al-Assir, who thank God has been sentenced to death. I am no fan of Nasrallah, but Al-Assir is worse.

  3. So MbS claimed another scalp, not a prince or businessman this time but no less than the Prime Minister of another country.

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