Nasrallah: Saudi Arabia forced Lebanese PM to resign

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.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah, urged Lebanese citizens against any political escalation in response to Hariri's surprise declaration on Saturday, which he made from Saudi Arabia.

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

Saudi Arabia and Iran are regional arch foes. Hariri cited threats on his life and Iran and its proxy Hezbollah's vast influence in Lebanon in his decision to resign. The nation was without a cohesive government and leadership for almost two years.

Nasrallah also said "legitimate questions" were being raised in Lebanon over whether Hariri was being detained in Saudi Arabia.

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"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 auto bomb incident in 2005 that many believe Hezbollah was involved in".

Under the power-sharing system that helped end Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, the president must be a Christian, the premier a Sunni and the speaker of parliament a Shiite.

A United Nations -backed tribunal has indicted five Hezbollah members for the killing but the group denies any involvement. I and my government have tried to keep to a policy of non-intervention in the crises in our region, but Iran keeps trying to intervene in Lebanon's internal affairs.

Saudi media have published reports of a plot to assassinate Hariri in recent days, but all of Lebanon's main security branches have said they have no information about such a plot.

  • Michelle Webb