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

Nov 06, 2017, 01:06
Saudi Arabia 'imposed' Lebanon PM's resignation, says Hezbollah chief

The leader of Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said on Sunday that Saudi Arabia had forced Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to resign, and called for calm and patience in Lebanon.

As he resigned on television Saturday, Hariri lashed out at Iran for meddling in the affairs of "the Arab world", saying that Lebanon would "rise as it had done in the past" and "cut off the hands that wickedly extend into it".

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

As U.S. and Saudi Arabia sought ways to curb Iran's growing influence in the region, Hariri has come under pressure to distance himself from the militant group which has sent thousands of troops to neighboring Syria to shore up President Bashar Assad's forces.

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Hariri allies in Lebanon have denied suggestions that he had been detained.

President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, will wait to accept or reject Hariri's resignation until he returns to Lebanon to explain his reasons, sources at the presidential palace said.

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

It comes amid a sharp escalation in Saudi rhetoric against its regional archrival Iran and puts Lebanon at the center of that rivalry.

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Earlier Saturday, al-Hariri announced his resignation while on a visit to Saudi Arabia, blaming the move on Iran and Hezbollah.

"Lebanon is a fragile country". He indeed formed a coalition government that brought together most of Lebanon's political parties, including Hizbollah.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was concerned by Hariri's resignation and hoped all sides in the country would back its state institutions, his spokesman on Lebanon Stephane Dujarric said in an emailed statement.

Al-Hariri placed the blame squarely on Iran and Hezbollah.

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

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