Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigns

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigns

In a televised address on Saturday, Prime Minister Hariri announced an unexpected resignation saying the atmosphere in the country resembles that before the assassination of his father, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, who was killed in 2005.

Lebanese PM resigned in a televised address blaming Iranian interference and alluded to fears of an assassination.

CGTN's Yasser Hakim confirms Saudi intelligence convinced Hariri that his life could be in peril if he traveled back to Lebanon.

"Over the past decades, Hezbollah has used its weapons against the Lebanese and Syrians to impose a fait accompli in Lebanon", he said, reiterating his rejection of using Lebanon as a platform "to threaten the security of the region".

But despite talks in March with Saudi Arabia's powerful Mohammed bin Salman, who was later named crown prince, Hariri's influence in Riyadh appears to have dwindled since the death of King Abdullah.

His resignation - a big surprise to Beirut's political establishment - brought down the coalition government and plunged Lebanon into a new political crisis.

Hariri was appointed prime minister in late 2016, leading a 30-member government that included Hezbollah.

Hariri's coalition, which took office past year, grouped almost all of Lebanon's main parties, including Hezbollah.

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In Lebanon, Hariri has faced criticism within his Sunni constituency for his lengthy absence and failure to bolster the community.

"There is a real danger that the tensions between the Hariri-dominated faction and Hezbollah-dominated faction could easily escalate into an armed confrontation", said Gerges, who is chair of contemporary Middle Eastern studies at London School of Economics.

Hariri was also locked in a standoff with Hezbollah over funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is prosecuting his father's murder and had implicated Hezbollah members.

Mr Hariri's father, former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, was assassinated in 2005.

He was elected after Mr Hariri endorsed him for president, based on an agreement that he would make him as prime minister.

"We can not afford to fight the Iranians from Lebanon", he told Reuters, advocating an approach of compromise with Hezbollah in Lebanon while waiting for regional circumstances to allow Saudi-Iranian dialogue.

The Shia group and its patron Iran were the focus of Hariri's resignation speech on Saturday, which was made in Saudi Arabia, where he holds citizenship.

An official at the US State Department said it was following the situation closely and noted that Hariri had been a "strong partner in building strong national state institutions and in the war on terror". Without Hariri in power, the United States and Saudi Arabia lose their main partner in the Lebanese government.

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