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06 November 2017, 01:07 | Rufus Hill
Lebanese PM resigns suddenly, fearing for his life
Hariri became Lebanon's prime minister late 2016 as part of a deal that gave some political concessions to his rival Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim group backed by Iran. Saad al-Hariri's resignation threatens to reignite sectarian divisions in the country.
"Hariri, who had just came back from his trip to Saudi Arabia, held talks with the Iranian envoy in Beirut and immediately left the Lebanese capital for Riyadh to announce his resignation through Saudi media", the source said.
On Saturday, Hariri surprisingly resigned from his post as prime minister in a televised address from Saudi Arabia. "It was not his intention, not his wish and not his decision", Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
Nasrallah said he had thought things were going well and had not wanted Hariri to quit.
Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh sought to calm fears the political turmoil unleashed by Mr Hariri's bid to resign would hit Lebanon's already fragile economy, issuing a statement to reaffirm the stability of its currency, which is pegged against the U.S. dollar.
Hazem al-Amin, a Lebanese writer who follows regional affairs, said Hariri's resignation is "completely a Saudi step" that comes in the context of an worldwide and regional atmosphere against Hezbollah and against Iranian influence in the region.
A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry denied the "unfounded accusations" made by Hariri on Saturday, saying the move was meant to stir up tensions in Lebanon and was pushed for by US President Donald Trump and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi-owned daily also said Hariri believed he was being used as a cover by Iran and Hezbollah to "lead the country towards great adventures where he will be a pawn to cover up their actions". He was an immensely influential tycoon who built his fortune in Saudi Arabia.
It is fighting alongside Iranian advisers and militias in the civil war in neighboring Syria, providing crucial support to President Bashar Assad's forces as a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations morphed into full-fledged war. Arab news sources said that al-Hariri had very recently survived an assassination attempt, which was the direct impetus for his decision. Thamer al-Sabhan said in an interview with a Lebanese TV station on Saturday that there were "threats against the prime minister and the kingdom is keen for his security".
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