As PM Saad Hariri dramatically resigns, what’s next for Lebanon?
Lebanon is already politically divided, but its Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s sudden resignation (announced on Saturday) has raised many new political as well as geopolitical questions. This shocking turn of events is expected to affect Lebanon’s tourism market that has seen a surge in the last few months.
Unhappy over Iran’s unnecessary meddling in the Arab world and a suspecting death threat, Hariri has resigned in less than a year’s time since taking over the post of Lebanon Prime Minister.
Chose neutral ground
Hariri chose Saudi Arabia to make this out-of-the-blue announcement and dramatically resigned on television. He accused his opponents of undue political interference, while citing a fear of being assassinated, like his father was in 2005.
He lashed out at Iran for intruding in the affairs of the Arab world, adding that Lebanon would ‘rise as it had done in the past’ and ‘cut off the hands that wickedly extend into it’.
“We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik al-Hariri (his father). I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life,” Hariri said in the broadcast from the Riyadh.
Rafik al-Hariri was killed in an attack that was blamed on Hezbollah that enjoys good power in Lebanon.
Hariri had reached an agreement with his rival group and had become Lebanon’s prime minister in 2016. This arrangement had given many political powers to his rivals, the Shiite Muslim group backed by Iran. Hariri is strongly associated with regional Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia.
According to AP, Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun (who has a close affinity with Hezbollah) said he had spoken with Hariri over the phone after his Saturday television speech. He added that he is looking forward to work out the terms of the resignation, once Hariri returns to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia.
As part of the agreement, Hariri was appointed Prime Minister in December 2016 and had previously served at the same position from 2009 to 2011.