Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri sent shockwaves to entire Middle-East recently while announcing his sudden resignation, while residing in Saudi Arabia, a country close to his government. His late father, Rafiq Hariri was assassinated by a large car bomb on Valentine’s Day in 2005. Hariri junior feared the same would repeat with help of Iran if he remained on to power.
In a speech delivered from the Saudi capital of Riyadh on 4th November, Hariri brought a dramatic end to an 11-month government that partnered with Iran-backed Hezbollah. “Iran is trying to destroy the Arab world,” he claimed.
The Lebanese army said in a statement that it had not uncovered any plot for assassination in the country. The Lebanon’s Shi‘ite Hezbollah group on the contrary claimed on last Sunday that Saudi Arabia forced Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to quit.
Hezbollah’s claim gains ground on the fact that the Kingdom’s Minister of State for Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan recently criticized the Lebanese government’s failure to curb Hezbollah and Iranian influence in Lebanon.
Hezbollah also hinted at a possible detention of Hariri in Saudi Arabia. Though this claim was strongly denied by Hariri aides, whose family made fortune in the Saudi construction industry.
This turmoil comes in the backdrop of intense strive in Middle-East over supremacy between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shite-Iran. While the need for union among varying nations amongst the viral rise of Islamic State and the Syrian conflict has been totally undermined, the divide on the contrary helps terrorist groups to expand their networks.
The resignation submitted by PM Hariri has not yet been accepted by Lebanese President Michel Aoun until the PM himself returns to Lebanon to explain the reasons behind his sudden resignation.
In Lebanon’s sectarian system the president must be a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker of parliament a Shi‘ite. Hariri had supported the appointment of Hezbollah’s candidate Michel Aoun, as President of Lebanon.
The news of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince tightening grip over the Kingdom with his reforms agenda with high-level arrests shocking the world and oil supermarkets, fueled social media speculation that Hariri, a Saudi national, was a target.
Hezbollah said “there was legitimate concern”, asking if Hariri had anything to do “with this internal struggle between the princes”.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern about the recent development in Lebanon.