Netanyahu: Resignation of Lebanese President Highlights Iranian Danger

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures while giving a lecture regarding Israel's foreign policy priorities at Chatham House The Royal Institute of International Affairs in Lond

Speaking from the Saudi capital Riyadh, Hariri cited Iran's "grip" on the country and threats to his life.

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 global and regional atmosphere against Hezbollah and against Iranian influence in the region.

The 47-year-old Sunni politician's resignation comes less than a year after his government, to which Hezbollah's political wing belongs, was formed.

On Saturday, Hariri surprisingly resigned from his post as prime minister in a televised address from Saudi Arabia.

Hezbollah's leader urged Lebanese citizens to refrain from protesting in a bid to stave off escalating tensions. In a statement, the presidential office said Aoun was informed by Hariri in a phone call of his resignation, adding that the president now awaits Hariri's return to clarify the circumstances of his resignation and proceed accordingly.

Now, his resignation, analysts say, may push Lebanon into a new political crisis; it may also be a manifestation of the regional Sunni-Shiite rivalry and fight for primacy.

When he took office, Hariri promised "a new era for Lebanon", which had been in a political deadlock for two years.


Saudi media have published reports of a plot to assassinate Mr Hariri in recent days, but all of Lebanon's main security branches have said they have no information about such a plot.

Hezbollah was founded with Iranian support in 1982 to resist the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and has since emerged as a regional power in its own right.

In Lebanon's sectarian system the president must be a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker of parliament a Shia.

In this February 14, 2005, file photo, vehicles burn following a massive bomb attack that tore through the motorcade of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, Lebanon.

Hariri's death was followed by a series of assassinations against Hezbollah opponents. Thamer al-Sabhan said in an interview with a Lebanese TV station on Saturday that there are "threats against the prime minister and the Kingdom is keen for his security".

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was concerned by Hariri's resignation and hoped all sides in the country would back its state institutions, his spokesman on Lebanon Stephane Dujarric said in an emailed statement.

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