Saad Hariri Quits as Le­banon Prime Min­is­ter, Blam­ing Iran

The Miracle - - Middle East -

By ANNE BARNARD BEIRUT, Le­banon — Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri of Le­banon said on Satur­day that he had quit his post, blam­ing Iran for in­ter­fer­ence in Arab af­fairs and throw­ing his coun­try, al­ready awash with ten­sions and regional ri­val­ries, into deeper un­cer­tainty. Mr. Hariri, speak­ing in a tele­vised ad­dress from the Saudi cap­i­tal, Riyadh, is­sued a blis­ter­ing con­dem­na­tion of Iran and its grow­ing power and in­flu­ence in the re­gion. He also as­sailed Iran’s Le­banese ally, Hezbol­lah, the Shi­ite mili­tia and po­lit­i­cal party that is part of the na­tional unity cab­i­net he led. “Wher­ever Iran set­tles, it sows dis­cord, dev­as­ta­tion and de­struc­tion, proven by its in­ter­fer­ence in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of Arab coun­tries,” Mr. Hariri said, adding that Iran’s “hands” in the re­gion “will be cut off.” The sur­prise an­nounce­ment — which shocked even his own staff — was an omi­nous sign of the es­ca­lat­ing regional ri­valry be­tween Saudi Ara­bia and Iran, an­a­lysts said, in­di­cat­ing the grow­ing dom­i­nance of Iran and Hezbol­lah as well as the Saudis’ in­creas­ingly as­sertive re­sponse. Le­banese and regional an­a­lysts, whether sup­port­ers or op­po­nents of Hezbol­lah, said it ap­peared that Mr. Hariri had been pres­sured to re­sign by his pa­trons, the Saudis, as they and the United States ratchet up ef­forts to counter Ira­nian in­flu­ence. The res­ig­na­tion came af­ter weeks of sharp Amer­i­can and Saudi con­dem­na­tions of Iran, in­clud­ing from Pres­i­dent Trump, and new Amer­i­can sanc­tions against Hezbol­lah.

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