Press TV – Saad Hariri’s sudden resignation from Lebanon’s premiership, announced from Saudi Arabia, has raised fears that regional tensions were about to escalate and that the small country would once again pay a heavy price.
Hariri quit his post on Saturday in a televised speech broadcast by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya television, during which he appeared tense as he carefully read out from a written statement.
He claimed that he feared the same fate as his assassinated father and accused Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah of meddling in Arab countries’ affairs.
Hariri’s departure sent shockwaves through Lebanon as the country is struggling to maintain stability at a time when much of the Middle East is gripped by Takfiri violence rooted in Saudi Arabia.
Lebanon’s Minister of Justice Salim Jreissati said the development was “confusing and suspicious in its timing and location as well as the way it was delivered and the content of the resignation.”
“The optics are terrible — for Hariri to resign from Riyadh, imagine how his audience [in Lebanon] feels watching that,” said Emile Hokayem, a regional analyst at the Institute for Strategic Studies.
“God protect Lebanon from the evil of Saudi Arabia’s reckless adventures,” Sheikh Nabil Kawouk, a member of Hezbollah’s central committee, told Lebanon’s Al Jadeed television.
Last week, Qatar’s former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim revealed how the US coordinated support by Doha, Riyadh and Ankara for terrorists operating against the Syrian government.
Syria has always been a thorn in the side of Israel. The Arab country is part of the “axis of resistance” along with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran, which has brought Daesh to the brink of elimination.
The triangle of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US is alarmed and the prospect of an eventual triumph of this axis which has now become inevitable has prompted them to take drastic measures.
On Friday, as Syria began celebrating the capture of Dayr al-Zawr, Nusra Front terrorists launched a massive assault on a Druze village neighboring the occupied Golan Heights.
According to Syrian state media, the onslaught was carried out with the Israeli coordination and assistance but Tel Aviv used the occasion to threaten a direct intervention in the war.
Hariri’s resignation over what he called Hezbollah’s “grip” on Lebanon is the latest drastic step which Saudi Arabia and its allies have taken to tip the scales even at the cost of turning Lebanon into another Syria.
With the prime minister out of the political landscape, the architects of the new “plot” could claim that Lebanon was exclusively under Hezbollah’s control. That idea was articulated by Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday.
“Lebanon=Hezbollah. Hezbollah=Iran. Lebanon=Iran,” he tweeted.
Hariri was appointed as the Lebanese premier in late 2016, after two years of political deadlock in the country. He formed a national unity government that included almost all of the main political parties in Lebanon, including Hezbollah.
Under the Lebanese constitution, the prime minister should be picked from among the Sunni community, but Saudi Arabia has tried to use the prerogative to maintain its influence in the country.
Riyadh says the government should be purged of Hezbollah, especially at a time when the resistance movement is emerging stronger from the Syria conflict.
Over the past few weeks, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Persian Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan had unleashed a series of vitriolic attacks against Hezbollah, saying the group “should be punished… and confronted by force.”
The accusations coincided with new sanctions approved by US House of Representatives on the Lebanese resistance movement.
Hossein Sheikholeslam, a senior Iranian politician, told Al Mayadeen TV that Hariri’s’ resignation had been coordinated before between US president Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
He said, “After the defeat of Daesh and the US in the region, Washington and Riyadh are trying to fuel tensions in Lebanon and the region.”
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, an adviser to the Iranian parliament speaker, agreed. “The decision has been made by the anti-Iran and anti-Hezbollah front following the disillusionment of US and its allies with Daesh,” he said.
In Lebanon, political leaders expressed their apprehension, including the leader of Lebanon’s Druze minority, who has frequently played kingmaker in Lebanese politics.
Walid Jumblatt, the leader of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), warned of the political burden and consequences of the resignation.
Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, said Hariri’s departure was “a dangerous decision whose consequences will be heavier than what Lebanon can bear.”
“Hariri has started a cold war that could escalate into a civil war, bearing in mind that Hezbollah is unmatched in Lebanon on the military level,” he added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, welcomed the decision and said Hariri’s departure should be a “wake-up call” to the international community to what he described as the threat posed by Iran.