Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigns

Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri resigned from office Saturday in a surprise announcement that plunged the country's fragile politics into uncertainty.

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

Mr Hariri's comments come after the USA imposed new sanctions on Hezbollah that many people in Lebanon fear will damage the country's economy.

Hariri's "repetition of unreal and baseless accusations... against Iran show that the resignation is designed to create tensions in Lebanon and in the region", said Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi.

Just Friday, Hariri met with a senior Iranian official who declared after the meeting, that Iran would respect the sovereignty of Lebanon and protect Lebanese security.

Walid Jumblatt, one of Lebanon's political heavyweights and the country's most prominent Druze leader, said Hariri's resignation could adversely affect a country already under huge strain.

Jerusalem, Nov 4 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that the resignation of Lebanon's premier, and his stated reasons, should serve as an "alarm call" to the world about Iran's ambitions.

The office of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a veteran Christian leader allied to Hezbollah, issued a statement saying it was waiting for Hariri's return to Lebanon "to enquire about the circumstances of his decision and decide on the next steps".

"Despite my efforts, Iran continues to abuse Lebanon".

Middle East expert Fawaz Gerges told CBC News Saturday that tensions could turn violent.

Hariri said in his speech that the political climate in Lebanon was reminiscent of that which prevailed before his father was killed. A UN-backed tribunal has charged five Hezbollah members over the killing.

Hariri's resignation was unprecedented in the way it was announced, in a televised address from an undisclosed location in Riyadh. His attacks on Hezbollah come on the heels of new USA sanctions on the group that many fear will impact negatively on the Lebanese economy.

"I announce my resignation from the post of prime minister", Hariri said in a speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia by the Al-Arabiya news network. "I'm confident that the will of the Lebanese is stronger and they will be able to defeat hegemony from inside and outside", he said. "But unfortunately, this pushed Iran and its allies to more interference in our internal affairs", he said.

Auon's election was made possible after Hariri endorsed him for president, based on an understanding that Aoun would then appoint Hariri as prime minister.

Earlier this week, Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan sharply criticized Hezbollah, calling for its "toppling" and promising "astonishing developments" in the coming days during an interview with the Lebanese TV station MTV.

  • Rogelio Becker