Iran says resignation of Lebanese PM will create tension in region

FILE Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al Hariri gives a speech during the opening ceremony of the second
Lebanese prime minister suggests he fears for his life, resigns
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06 November, 2017

Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah group on Sunday accused Saudi Arabia of forcing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to quit, and called for calm in an effort to contain the political crisis unleashed by his resignation. "Iran very much wants to bring chaos and destruction to the Arab world, but the evil it is sowing will return to it and attack it like a boomerang", he said.

Hariri became prime minister in late 2016 in a coalition government that included the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, one of Saudi Arabia's chief detractors in the region.

Asharq al-Awsat reported Hariri was caught off guard by the assassination attempt, as he had been seeking a modus vivendi with Hezbollah. He was an immensely influential tycoon who built his fortune in Saudi Arabia. "The resignation of al-Hariri and his comments on Iran are a wake-up call to the worldwide community to act against Iran, which is trying to turn Syria into a second Lebanon".

"We urge against political escalation", he said.

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

Lebanon's president, Michel Aoun, said he spoke with Hariri by phone after the speech Saturday and, as the AP reports, he planned to work out the terms of the resignation following Hariri's return from Saudi Arabia.

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"Lebanon is a fragile country". Their political bloc controls the largest shares of seats in Lebanon's parliament. This is an indication that the resignation was designed to create tension in Lebanon and the region.

Hezbollah was founded with Iranian support in 1982 to resist the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and has since emerged as a regional power in its own right.

Following Hariri's decision to step down, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the resignation should be a "wake-up call" to the worldwide community to the threat posed by Iran's regional ambitions, which he said endanger not only Israel but the entire Middle East.

Hariri's resignation was unprecedented in the way it was announced, in a televised address from an undisclosed location in Riyadh.

His father, Rafik al-Hariri, was prime minister after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war and was assassinated in a auto bombing in 2005.

Several Hezbollah members are being tried in absentia for the killing by a United Nations -backed tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.


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